We hear a lot about mindset these days, but can your thoughts really affect your outcomes? Is this just another new age-y trend with little scientific merit? Or, is this the best-kept secret of successful people? Since we’re all about feeling our best at BKN, we wanted to drill into the science behind positivity and find out what’s really going on, where to start and how to turn your ‘tude into a good mood. Optimistic Outlooks Can More Than You Think Let’s start in our happy place; optimism has been proven to help everything from surgical recovery to stress levels. Research has shown us that a positive outlook can even predict a lower death rate later in life. In a recent study, middle aged patients were evaluated prior to undergoing coronary artery bypass surgery and 6 months after surgery to assess levels of optimism, depression, self-esteem, and neuroticism. The results showed that optimists were half as likely to require re-hospitalization compared to pessimists. Similar results were found in a study with angioplasty patients where post surgery pessimists were three times more likely to need a second angioplasty and three times more likely to have heart attacks in the 6 months following surgery. Gut Feelings Another study examined the relationship between respiratory infections and one’s emotions with volunteers who exhibited positive personality traits having a significantly lower chance of developing viral symptoms in comparison to their pessimistic peers. The real challenge is actually creating a positive state of mind, in contrast to a negative mindset, which leads to stress and anxiety (and high levels of cortisol!). While certain levels of stress and anxiety are necessary for human survival, our current emotional and mental state have created an unhealthy environment. Rewind Back to Our Ancestors To better explain this phenomenon, let's go primal for a second. If a cave person is in the woods and sees a massive predator, they are obviously going to freak out of fear. The cave person’s body enters fight or flight mode, cortisol spikes and the rest of the world melts away. This fear driven reaction is instinctual and used as a form of protection. However, when you flash to today, our over-stimulating, fast paced world has created constant stress and fear triggers. For our body and mind it basically means there is a predator on the prowl, which significantly detracts from our ability to live in the moment and focus on the various things that need our attention, rather than being consumed by that upsetting thought. What was once primarily a useful response for life and death situations, now triggers a constant and often unnecessary state of distress (you probably are not going to run into a giant bear on your commute). Negative Emotions Take a Toll High levels of cortisol don’t just impact mental health! Constant high levels of cortisol can lead to weight gain, chronic pain, fatigue, impact muscle development, and disrupt hormones, to name a few! Negative emotions are consuming, they detract from all other situations and often skew your perception of events. Think about it, if you are always stressed out, on edge, or thinking negatively, you tend to eat badly or snack a lot more, you tend to slouch and you are constantly thinking and worrying, which can decrease productivity and keep you up at night. Positivity helps to handle stress, impacting how one reacts to pressure and certain situations, ultimately changing how situations are viewed and dealt with. In other words, when you are experiencing positive emotions like joy, contentment, and love, you will see more possibilities in your life. Now that we’ve explained why it’s so vital to think positively, it’s up to you to incorporate more positive thinking into your day to day. Here are three ways to kick start your positive mindset: Daily Affirmations Daily affirmations will drastically change how you start and end your day. BKN loves the 5 minute journal , which helps you express gratitude and love for your day. If you want to start small, try writing down 1 simple affirmation at the end of your day. Instead of scrolling your newsfeed, take out a piece of paper or open up notes on your phone, and write down 1 positive affirmation. It could be “I am proud that I made time to workout” to “ I found a beautiful coffee shop near work”. Small, but mighty, remembering a positive element of your day will not only leave you happy before your night’s sleep, but it will slowly impact your overall mindset. Meditation Meditation is more than just sitting on a pretty pillow trying not to think of anything. Meditation is a way to slow down, and let your mind relax. It connects brain to body and has even been shown to change the brain on a cellular level! There are plenty of ways to start meditation, but we have fallen in love with Headspace. Headspace is a guided meditation app that walks you through each day of meditation. In 10 short minutes a day, you will slowly but surely become a meditating star and feel more at ease. Me time Whether it’s a long walk in the park, curling up to a good book, or blaring your music for a dance party with your dog, me time is important, but so easily taken for granted. Set time aside, whether it’s a full day, or a half an hour a day, to do something you love. It may sound silly, but us go getters forget how important it is to stop hustling and just chill. Regardless if you start with all or start with one, you will not beelieve the difference you’ll feel after a few days of including positivity into your routine!