We have probably all grown up seeing those corny motivational posters hung around our middle schools and counseling offices, "Never give up." Those quotes about Courage, taking risks, working as a Team. Most of us didn't give them a second glance, right? When we got a bit older, we also were introduced to the idea of the "power of positive thinking" by commercials and self help books. Something we never really considered? At least not myself.

I always associated the image of positive thinking and motivational quotes as silly mumbo jumbo made up by adults and a waste of my time. Ask me a year ago and I would have scoffed at the thought. Only recently, having changed my attitude and really understanding what the process meant outside of my initial assumptions have I realized its true benefits.

Positive thinking can lead to positive changes within lifestyle, personality and your contribution to those around you and yourself.

While the concept of "positive thinking creating positive results in life" is one that has been discussed casually for centuries, there is one name that is almost synonymous with this realm of study, and that is Norman Peale. (CHANGE SLIDE) Mr. Peale wrote the book "The Power of Positive Thinking" in the 1950's.

In his book he discusses how positive thinking can accomplish and improve a few aspects of life by creating: A comfortable financial state, Inner peace, Success in the workplace, Better relationships with friends, family and loved ones, Happiness and contentment. (CHANGE SLIDE)

"We can't escape pain; we can't escape the essential nature of our lives. But we do have a choice. We can give in and relent, or we can fight, persevere, and crete a life worth living, a noble life. Pain is a fact; our evaluation of it is a choice." In this quote by Jacob Held, we are faced with the reality of taking our lives into our own hands. This begins with positive thinking because positive thinking is about maintaining hope, not expecting things to be all good, all the time.

Positive thinking is all about self improvement and believing that you can become the person you want to be. Most times, our inner critics are the loudest forms of criticism we receive in our lives. We expect a lot from ourselves and are fearful of failure. This is all very human. What is also very human is our tendency to overthink situations and allow that overthinking to lead to negative thoughts or low self esteem, insecurities, and other issues based on our personal perceptions of ourselves that we all probably have faced in one way or another.

Being negative towards yourself is never a good thing. Researchers found pessimism may boost levels of destructive stress hormones in your bloodstream. Overthinking a situation often leads to negative thoughts and stress, worry or anxiety. This self rumination has been researched to increase depressed moods and self hate/esteem issues. When you have developed such low self esteem, it may prompt you to give up easily and not strive to live the best life you can. Implementing a regiment of positive thinking can help you battle these things and get them out of the way of you enjoying your life and the things that you do.

Take something as small as studying for a test. If you tell yourself it is too much work and the material is too hard, your mind becomes flooded with the negative thoughts and you are unable to even process the material.

Taking a step back and allowing yourself to believe you can actually succeed, or that the effort is more important than the results, clears your mind to do what really needs to be done. All this is simply done by changing HOW you think.

Having a positive attitude toward life als makes you more likely to take better care of yourself. You're more likely to attract people into your life and keep them there. And your mood can easily affect those around you. Have you ever been in a situation where one friend was in a bad mood and soon everyone else followed suit? Be the person who inspires instead of feeds negative thoughts.

Some of you may be skeptical since positive thinking seems almost too easy.

People want results quickly. The method seems silly and they're friends would make fun of them for it if they are constantly spouting about being more positive. Some people try positive thinking for specific results, expecting it to fix all their problems or show them an easy fix. It's believed that positive thinking may help you recover from illness, but research sometimes showed that there was little to no effect on immune health and people are discouraged, they pass it off as silliness or superstition.

But the best way to get anything out of positive thinking is to follow through, work hard at it every day and allow changes to happen in small ways.

Though there is some science behind positive thinking. (CHANGE SLIDE) In 1985, Michael F. Scheier and Charles Carver published their "Optimism, Coping, and Health: Assessment and Implications of Generalized Outcome Expectancies" in Healthy Psychology.

Scheier and Carver bridged the gap between "the worlds of psychology and biology". After the publication, scientists had a method to studying the benefits of optimism. And what they learned was that the effects of positive thinking may have something to do with the mind's power over the immune system.

For example, in a study, psychologists "polled healthy first-year law students at the beginning of the school year to find out how optimistic they felt about the upcoming year. By the middle of the first semester, the students who had been confident that they would do well had more and better functioning immune cells than the worried students".

The study supported the idea that repetitive positive thought and positive activity can rewire your brain and strengthen brain areas that stimulate positive feelings.

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My Story with accepting positive thinking began this semester when I realized how my negative thoughts affected my school work and relationships. I wanted to turn my life around. So I started making goals. First my goals were long term, then I realized I worked best with short term goals. Ones where I had to challenge myself each day to stay motivated. Learning what works best for you is an important process of self reflection. In my personal blog, I began making small changes, day by day. I would only write about positive things that happened instead of dwelling on the negative. Another important factor was starting out small on caring less what others would think of me and more what I thought of myself. I made Lifestyle changes: I began going to sleep earlier, reaching out to new people, letting go of the past and thinking outside of myself. I also started going to the gym everyday and going to group exercise. This is a picture of me before the Ukrops 10K something I never would have done. I changed my priorities and it was of course not the easiest thing to do but taking it day by day and letting the process help me, right now, I can say that I am on the way to becoming the person I want to be.

Positive thinking can help you if you let it. Life is what you make it and you can either decide to succeed or decide not to. It is easy to go the easier route and give up. We are faced with this decision every day. But choosing the harder route and making these positive changes even in smallest ways can help improve your lifestyle and help you become a positive influence on others. Every day as I accomplish these things, I want to reach out and inspire others. Because if someone like me was able to do it, then I know anyone can. I know it won't help everyone and we all have our own ways about reaching our goals and contentment in lives, but for the people it can help, I encourage you greatly to start today, right now.

CHANGE SLIDE

I. How to go about Thinking Positive.

A. Helpful Tips: Take things at your own pace and learn what is right for you, etc. etc.

Learn about the process. Try it. You have nothing to lose.

Ignore what others may think.

Use your imagination/daydreaming only to visualize positive outcomes.

Use positive words even in your thoughts and conversations. Listen to positive speeches. (Read, watch) Avoid negative media/entertainment.

Smile more.

Learn to be persistent in ignoring negative thoughts. Recognize them and decide to put them aside. ("Like looking at two pictures")

Be aware of inner resistance but don't give up.

Be patient and open to changing circumstances. Even when things seem hopeless, think positively. Remember life is always changing.

Repetition of phrases/affirmations.

Hopefully this presentation has helped you all reconsider the way you go about thinking even in the smallest way and good luck.