Can positive thinking really change your life? We investigate.


“Your vibe attracts your tribe.”
“Positive mind, positive life.”

Scroll through any social media feed and you’ll find inspirational messages such as these promoting the power of positive thinking and self-love. The theory goes like this: If we’re approaching our lives with a fear-based perspective, we’re mental breeding grounds for negativity and, in turn, unhappy lives (and maybe even festering some ailments along the way). It’s thought that when we switch our thinking to come from a positive, loving place, that the magic really happens and our lives change in every way. But we can’t help but ask: Can you completely change a situation if you change your perspective?

The conversation about wellness is ongoing and there is no shortage of books to help you become a better version of yourself—though, if we’re being honest, the work is never really done. But one of the common threads in this literature is that many of us are approaching life from a fear-based perspective, which is where the majority of our problems begin and end. When you look at our current social and political climate, it’s really no wonder that more and more people are experiencing mood disorders and have a hard time seeing the good in the world, and we all know that part of ending the stigma on mental health is removing the expectation that you can just “switch it off.” But what wellness gurus like Gabrielle Bernstein preach is that you have the power to change your energy, so if you’re feeling, sad, stuck or just generally down, by tapping into the energy of self-love, you can pull yourself out of it—or at least become self-aware enough to understand there’s a bigger issue at hand.

Now, if this is starting to sound a little “woo woo” as Ruby Warrington, founder of The Numinous and author of Material Girl, Mystical World puts it, bear with us. While discussing the whole outer beauty versus inner beauty debate and how you can have a balance of both in this day and age, Warrington states, “The same way your best friend, or your child or your lover could never be anything less than beautiful to you, I believe that cultivating that same unconditional love for your inner self is how you can begin to see your outer self as the very definition of beauty.” While adopting a more compassionate mentality towards ourselves and others can help you accept those physical “flaws” or ignore a snarky remark because everyone is going through something, positive thinking may be more important than we think. Johns Hopkins did a study that found that positive-minded individuals who, even with a family history of heart disease, were one third less likely to develop a heart disease than those with a negative outlook. The study goes on to explain that simply “smiling more” can help contribute to this positive outlook (sometimes easier said than done), but corroborates the theory that reframing the way you look at, process and respond to certain situations can also have a massive impact.

In Brené Brown’s (PhD, LMSW) latest book Rising Strong, she discusses the reframing of our stories and how they can help us lead more impactful lives, both on a personal and professional front. “The irony is that we attempt to disown our difficult stories to appear more whole or more acceptable, but our wholeness—even our wholeheartedness—actually depends on the integration of all of our experiences, including the falls,” she states. It’s the understanding that every experience—the good, the bad and the ugly—are what make you, you, and they are what have taught you resilience. 


The short answer, if you believe it, is yes. It’s the placebo effect: If you can truly believe that every experience has a positive side to it, then it will impact your life in ways that you never imagined. If you look at stubbing your toe while rushing out the door as a cue that you need to slow down a bit in life, then you’ll give yourself more time to get ready or stop multitasking to the point where you’re not paying attention to your surroundings. Sometimes crappy things happen—whether it’s not hearing back from someone about a pitch or the bigger issues our society is dealing with right now—and while you may not actually be able to cultivate good things happening
to you, by changing your perspective and not settling for certain things as “well, that’s just life,” you’ll notice that certain negative forces will start to dwindle, being replaced by better energy, whether that be a toxic friend or relationship, a rushed morning routine or a general healthy lifestyle.


Sometimes even the tiniest trig- gers can perpetuate negativity. Next time your reaction is to snap, try these tactics instead. If you find that you get agitated when a particular person calls, texts or emails you... Ignore it
(if you can) until you’ve calmed yourself down. After you’ve responded, ask yourself why you react like this. Is it something this person has actually done or is it a narrative that you’ve created in your head?
When you’re forced to do a task or project you loathe... Try to see the love in the situation by making a list of the good that this task or project will do, whether it’s adding to your professional development or making your space a little cleaner so you can relax.

If you’re feeling stuck (in any way)... Do something that shifts your mind away from whatever negative energy you’re feeling, whether that’s meditating for a few minutes at a time (if you’re new or have a hard time letting go, try a meditation app like Calm), listening to a podcast or going for a walk.



Three books to get your hands on right now.

1. The Universe Has Your Back by Gabrielle Bernstein ($35,
For a lesson in self-love and becoming a fellow spirit junkie, this is a must-read and includes exercises to make it happen.

2. Material Girl, Mystical World by Ruby Warrington ($34,
If you’ve ever been curious about the cosmic and spiritual, this book is a 3 crash course on adapting both to your modern life.

3. Rising Strong by Brené Brown ($24,
“When we deny our stories, they define us. When we own our stories, we get to write the ending.” Enough said.

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