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2013: Glass half empty or glass half full?

By Abir K. Bekhet, Ph.D., R.N., H.S.M.I., College of Nursing

As the New Year begins and people all over the country make resolutions, Dr. Abir Bekhet, assistant professor of nursing, shares her secret to ensuring 2013 is a good one think positively.

Bekhet studies positive cognition, resourcefulness and resilience in overcoming adversity in vulnerable populations, and has published more than 38 articles on how positive cognitions have been found to improve the relationship between relocation controllability and relocation adjustment among older adults who relocated to retirement communities. She also researches how positive cognitions can mediate the relationship between caregivers’ burden and feelings of resourcefulness in caregivers of persons with dementia and autism.

For me, thinking positively is a way of life. When I moved to the United States from my native Egypt to pursue a doctorate degree, I observed some of my international classmates falling apart under the stress of relocating to a different country, while others seemed to thrive. I wanted to know how I could get into the ‘thriving’ category, and began to research the power of positive thought.

Here are some of the tips I’ve learned along the way:

Glass half full: The power of positive thinking

Positive thinking is a cognitive process that helps an individual develop a mental attitude of hope and optimism. Positive thinking is powerful because it increases individuals’ coping abilities and helps to overcome adversity. It has been found to increase feelings of joy and happiness, contribute to a longer life span, enhance the immune system and improve physical and psychological well-being. Practicing consistent positive thinking has also been found to decrease levels of stress and the risk of some diseases, such as cardiovascular diseases. 
Thinking positively is a process of training the mind to see a bright outlook for a situation. Ways to improve your positive thinking in 2013 include:

  • Approaching unpleasant situations in a constructive, present way

  • Practicing positive self-talk

  • Visualizing a positive outcome to a situation

  • Surrounding yourself with positive people

Glass half empty: Replacing negative thoughts with positive thoughts

Try to remember the last time you thought negatively about something. How did you feel and how did you act? The way you think will reflect the way you feel and the way you act. Negative thoughts can cause unhappiness and restlessness, drain energy and prevent you from enjoying the present moment.  The power of negative thoughts can shape your life in a negative way. Ways to combat negative thoughts and learn how to replace them with constructive and positive thoughts include:

  • Becoming aware of pessimistic thoughts and replacing them with constructive ones

  • Practicing persistence; if the negative thoughts come back again, replace them with positive thoughts

  • Learning how to live in the moment

  • Realizing the present is the only reality that you need to deal with

If you look back at your life, most of the things you worried about never actually happened. Practice living in the moment in 2013, and see where it takes you.



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