Living with Chronic Pain

The Power of Positive Thinking


Positive thinking, or being optimistic, involves concentrating on the good. A positive attitude improves the ability to cope with chronic pain. Although reality and negative occurrences should not be ignored, anticipating things to go well promotes positive thinking.

Practicing positive thinking is beneficial for a person’s mental well-being. It contributes to improved mood, decreased depression, and a greater ability to cope with life’s stressors.

Benefits of positive thinking

Positive thinking can also improve physical health. Examples of health benefits of an optimistic attitude include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Increased pain tolerance
  • Strengthened immune system
  • Improved recovery following an illness or surgery
  • Lowered blood pressure
  • Decreased risk of heart attack
  • Longer life span

Though the exact link between positive thinking and physical health is unknown, researchers suspect that it is due to a reduction in stress-related inflammation. Positive thinking may also contribute to making healthy lifestyle choices.

Supporting positive thinking

Although not everyone is born with a positive attitude, certain steps can improve perspectives. Practices that support positive thinking include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Smiling and laughing more often
  • Reframing a negative situation by identifying something good that may result
  • Spending additional time with family members and friends
  • Writing in a gratitude journal
  • Talking with a counselor or therapist about reducing negative thinking and increasing positive thinking
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