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Posts Tagged ‘positive thinking’

Simply put — positive emotions broaden one’s thinking.

Given the opposite environment — one in which negative emotions emerge — this makes perfect sense. What do people express when they are in a funk or depressed? They say they can’t think of anything else; their thought processes narrow. Many people in that situation even say even their vision narrows — the “looking through a narrow tunnel” syndrome.

Now, researchers have confirmed that the opposite occurs when positive emotions exist. They say that people who experience positive emotions “show a style of broad-minded coping in which they step back from the current problems and consider them from multiple angles.”

Obviously, that approach comes in handy during a stressful situation. People in a positive state are more likely to reappraise the situation in a positive light and be more goal-directed. They are also more likely to infuse ordinary events with positive meaning, which in turns help them survive or thrive despite adversity.

As corny as it may sound, Norman Vincent Peale got it right — the power of positive thinking rests in its ability to broaden, not narrow, our thoughts, perceptions and actions. If you want to change your actions, change your emotions first.

Source: Positive emotions broaden the scope of attention and thought-action repertoires. Barbara L. Fredrickson and Christine Branigan. Cognition and Emotion 19 (3), 313-332 (2005)

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A recent study strongly suggests that positive thinking has no impact on cancer survival rates. Here’s an article on the study.

The newly published study conducted by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine looked at 1,093 patients with head and neck cancer who were asked to complete quality-of-life questionnaires during their treatment. A total of 646 patients died during the study follow-up. Even after acounting for other variables that could affect survival, a patient’s emotional state was found to have no bearing on whether or not the person lived or died, according to the study. According to behavioral scientist James C. Coyne, PhD, who led the study team, this research supports a growing amount of research that shows no scientific basis for the popular notion that an upbeat attitude is critical for “beating” cancer.

That’s not to say that cancer patients shouldn’t remain upbeat and participate in group forums, meditation and other activities to relieve any pain and suffering, but the research does appear to conclude there is little evidence that positive thinking alone directly affects cancer growth.

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