Tap into positive thinking to improve your mood and health with these quotes from authors, poets, athletes, and notable historic figures.
Does positive thinking really work?
People whine and complain often—it’s human nature. You may have complained about a canceled trip due to coronavirus or whined about how your banana bread recipe turned out in the oven. As it turns out, the power of positive thinking is real. A small 2016 study published in Behaviour Research and Therapy suggests that for people with an anxiety disorder, positive thinking and visualizations could help them reduce anxiety by minimizing negative thinking.
In might sound a little too simplistic, but doing your best to stay positive in the midst of a pandemic and concerns over injustice, job security, and the future in general, may help you manage. “Anxiety increases when the future is unknown,” notes Janika Joyner, licensed clinical social worker, owner of Higher Elevation Psychosocial Services in Chesapeake, Virginia. Her remedy, and what she suggests to her clients, is focusing on what you actually have the power to control, such as figuring out how to put money aside if you’re worried about finances or committing to a home-exercise program if your gym still hasn’t reopened. “Recognizing those things that are within your control can be empowering, which is often the little push you need to get yourself thinking positively.”
Sometimes the push you need is as simple as having someone remind you to think positive thoughts. That’s where the following words of wisdom come in. Sure, it might be easier said than done, but it’s a start. From authors to athletes, here are some positive thinking quotes to inspire you.
Look to the light
Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times if only someone remembers to turn on the light.” —J.K. Rowling (from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban)
J.K. Rowling gave this line to her wise and beloved wizard, Albus Dumbledore to say in Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban.
Brighter days will come
“The sun’ll come out
Bet your bottom dollar
There’ll be sun!” —Strouse and Charnin, from the musical Annie
Annie is the poster child for the Great Depression, and if imagining her belting out that line can’t bring a smile to your face, well, keep reading. (Here are the things naturally optimistic people do every day.)
“Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise.” —Victor Hugo (from Les Misérables)
This quote from Victor Hugo’s iconic book, Les Miserables is a great reminder of the uncrushable power of optimism and the transformative nature of human kindness.
Beauty is everywhere
“Think of all the beauty still around you and be happy.” —Anne Frank (from Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl)
Anne Frank didn’t survive the Holocaust and had to face the daily horror of discovery in her annex, but she was still able to pen these optimistic words. (Here are 12 present-day Covid-19 heroes.)
Joy gives you wings
Just think happy thoughts and you’ll fly.” —J.M. Barrie (from Peter Pan)
Peter Pan said this to Wendy in the book, Peter Pan and he meant it literally—but it works figuratively, as well.
Get up and try, try again
“I’ll try again, I’ll fail again. I’ll fail better than I did before.” —Samuel Beckett (from Worstward Ho)
Irish author Samuel Beckett used dark humor and absurdity to express his outlook on modern existence, but it could lead to a cockeyed optimism as this quote from Worstward Ho demonstrates. The opportunity to fail can be a teacher.
You have more control than you know
“There is no such thing as a hopeless situation. Every single circumstance of your life can change!” —Rhonda Byrne (from The Secret)
You don’t have to believe in the premise behind author Rhona Byrne’s The Secret (to sum up: Believe it, and it will happen) to benefit from the optimism contained in this quote. (Feeling depressed? Here are some depression quotes that capture your mood.)
Look deep in yourself
“Who you are inside is what helps you make and do everything in life.” —Fred Rogers in The World According to Mister Rogers: Important Things to Remember
Admit it: We all want to live in Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.
Focus on the good
“Do not allow negative thoughts to enter your mind for they are weeds that strangle confidence.” —Bruce Lee
“The mind is a fertile garden,” martial artist and actor Bruce Lee once said. It will grow anything you wish to plant—beautiful flowers or weeds. Ask yourself: Do you want to grow flowers or weeds?
Believing is winning
“Life’s battles don’t always go to the stronger or faster man. But sooner or later, the man who wins is the man who thinks he can.” —Vince Lombardi
Celebrated football coach, Vince Lombardi, used this approach to transform the National Football League’s Green Bay Packers from a losing team to a two-time Super Bowl championship winner. (Here’s how to stop overthinking.)
“The pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” —Winston Churchill
The two-time Prime Minister of Great Britain, who helped to defeat Nazi Germany in World War II, was also a prolific writer with a hilariously acid wit, but he was also unfailingly optimistic. Consider his reply to a woman who told him he was drunk: “My dear you are ugly, but tomorrow I shall be sober and you will still be ugly.”
Defeat is not an option
“We are not interested in the possibilities of defeat; they do not exist.” —Queen Victoria
Queen Victoria said this about the Boer War (between Britain and the South African Republic—then known as the Boers of Transvaal). Britain was not defeated.
Every day has its charm
“Hoping to live days of greater happiness, I forget that days of less happiness are passing by.” —Elizabeth Bishop
The poet Elizabeth Bishop is most famous for her poem, One Art, which begins, “The art of losing isn’t hard to master.” It’s a highly lyrical, bittersweet meditation on the way you talk to yourself through the inevitable sadness that comes from having lived, which means having to leave things behind. (Here’s how poetry boosts mood.)
“I am the greatest, I said that even before I knew I was.” —Muhammad Ali
Ali spoke his belief into reality: Olympic gold medalist, championship boxer, and a winner of 56 fights in his 21 years as a professional. (Here are life skills that are scientifically proven to be keys to success.)
Embrace positive power
“Even people who have a long record of NOT succeeding can be turned into tremendous achievers if they will discard their images of themselves as failures.” —Norman Vincent Peale, The Power of Positive Thinking
The face of positive thinking, Norman Vincent Peale sent an optimistic charge through the middle of the last century with his famous book, The Power of Positive Thinking. (Next, read these short inspirational quotes to get yourself thinking positively.)
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