It may sound terribly old fashioned, corny, or even smack of New Age ideologies, but the plain truth is that having a positive outlook impacts the likelihood of success in a variety of endeavors. What we do while at the gym is no exception. The psychology behind this is simple, the physics is somewhat more complex and of the quantum flavor, but essentially whatever you seek, you will find. When you decide that a training or bodybuilding regimen is the right course for you, a positive attitude is what will get you out of bed for the early run, push for that last rep, or make a healthier choice when you’re out to dinner with your friends. In this article, we’ll focus primarily on the psychological-physical feedback relationship that exists, the impacts of positive and open thought patterns, and the need for optimism in fitness perseverance.
What is Positive Thinking?
Positive thinking isn’t about seeing the world as all roses and kittens. It can be understood best when we look at explanatory style. This deals with the way in which you explain how things happen. While people with a positive explanatory style tend to give themselves credit when good things happen, they attribute negative events to outside influences and tend to see them as atypical occurrences. Negative explanatory style presents the converse of these tendencies.
While many pop-psychology philosophies give positive thinking a status as a cure-all, there are actually physically verifiable health benefits obtaining to an upbeat outlook. The Mayo Clinic documents that positive thinking can offer one or all of these benefits to people who adopt it as a life practice:
• Less stress
• Better stress management and coping skills
• Increased resistance to the common cold
• Longer lifespan
• Better psychological health
• Lower rates of depression
• Increased physical well-being
• Decreased risk of cardiovascular disease-related death
It’s important to note that while positive thinking is definitely a wonderful practice, it should not take the place of realistic assessment of situations. However, overall, the benefits it offers have a very real import for anyone who wants to improve their physical health through fitness.
Resetting Your Neural Network.
Our thoughts follow defined pathways within our brains—lightning leaping from neuron to neuron in a dance that never stops, even while we sleep. Whether it’s remembering where you put your keys or making a big change in your life fitness goals, your brain physically “remembers” every thought progression. That’s why it’s so vital to maintain a positive outlook in life. This applies to habitual activities as well. Repetitive actions and activities essential set themselves in brain concrete. The thought of the habit will actually inspire a motor response that corresponds to the habit. So be certain to form positive ones, because they are difficult to change. That isn’t to say neural nets are impossible to alter. We do usually do this unconsciously.
However, when you engage your executive faculties—those involved in any action or thought process that requires focus—such a change assume difficult to manage proportions, precisely because we are thinking about it too hard. Try to focus instead on how you’re viewing the world in your daily life and slowly steer your assessments into positive tracks—rather than critiquing a stranger, see something positive about that person—because big changes begin with small actions.
Another tactic to aid you in creating a positive mindset is going to bed earlier and waking sooner. With rigid work and school schedules, this can be rather challenging, but the reason it benefits human psychological and physiological health is simple. For much of our story, humans have existed without artificial light beyond the circle of firelight. We are creatures of daylight. Artificial light, especially blue light from many computers, phones, and televisions, actually disrupts the hormonal and electrical signals our pineal gland sends. This tiny gland tells us when it’s time to sleep and wake, based on light.
Resetting your circadian rhythm can actually benefit how you think during the day, because you will derive more refreshment from your sleep and be capable of more clearly reasoned thought. This will aid you when you’re restructuring your neural net, setting habits of positive thinking and action, because you’ll be less likely to act in haste or without prior thought. It will reduce frustrating accidents and inept speech. It will also give you more energy to devote to your daily tasks and any fitness regime you choose to undertake.
Why Positive Thinking Impacts Goal Attainment
Thus far, we’ve focused on setting positive thinking habits for their general physical and psychological benefits, but how can it impact specific concepts like reaching a goal? When you are negatively focused on what you can achieve, even if you set reasonable goals that can be reached through hard work, you will be less likely to reach those goals. That’s because, when you focus on what isn’t possible, your inner monologue is negatively focused, or you harbor fear of accident or pain, you are more likely to turn aside more easily. You are more likely to throw the towel in at the first sight of an obstacle. Even if you push yourself forward, it’s likely that surmounting that obstacle will be more painful or inconvenient than it might be for one with a positive outlook. Again, we can relate this to topics of bodybuilding or weight loss. When working out at ifg Brisbane gym, either with my friends or looking at people that happen to be there, they more often than not call it quits even at the first mention of discomfort. This is a psychological aspect professional bodybuilders heavily work on improving.
The Samurai practiced a technique in training and battle known as No Mind. Buddhists employ a similar technique during meditation that they call Finding the Place of No Mind. Both instances maintain that when we divide our mental energy among many considerations, we rob ourselves of power in whatever task is at hand. Positive thinking can function very much like No Mind, because it encourages absolute focus on the moment—this lift, this run, this form or stance of a martial arts practice session. You are not worried about what you’ll make for dinner later, what the guy next to you thinks about your performance, or what you’ll do if you twist your ankle coming down the hill. What you focus on is perfecting the motion, pushing through difficulty or mild discomfort, not what could go wrong.
Positive thought is also a release from the worries of everyday life. If you are not worried about what happened in a meeting earlier, you’re more likely to give your best to your workout. You will attain better results and meet goals more easily. Eventually, this feeds on itself and spreads to other areas of your life. You’ll succeed more at work or school, develop stronger, better interpersonal relationships, and cultivate a new level of self-respect. That’s because when you see how rewarding positive thought is, you will be encouraged to set higher goals and hold yourself to higher standards.
Moreover, if you do encounter difficulty or fall short of a set goal, you’ll be able to bounce back and try again more easily. Cultivating this mental strength and stability informs on the cultivation of physical strength. Negative thought says, “You can’t lift that much,” or “You’ll never be able to run that marathon.” If you talk to yourself that way, it’s certain that you can’t, because you won’t. Positive thought, with realistic balance says, “Maybe not today, but it doesn’t hurt to try and keep trying.”
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