Positive attitude: key to mental health?

Living positively and relativising problems can be an effective strategy to improve our quality of life.

Find out more about the importance of a positive attitude: is it key to mental health?
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We know, it sounds like a phrase on a breakfast mug or a coloured pen from a well-known stationery brand decorated with unicorns and pastel colours. But the key to this statement is not to reduce its value to something simplistic, nor to ignore the inherent difficulties of life. Even if we want to, the problems will always be there.

The idea that positive thinking can improve our lives is rooted in positive psychology, a field that studies the strengths and virtues that enable individuals and communities to thrive. And it’s not just us; science has addressed this question on a number of occasions.

Martin Seligman, an American psychologist considered one of the founders of this discipline, showed that optimistic people tend to have better mental health, face less stress and enjoy greater longevity. Does this mean that these people have no problems? But the reality is that they simply deal with them in ways that minimise their negative impact.

The power of relativising problems

Relativising problems does not mean downplaying them or living in denial. It is a technique we can use to put difficulties in perspective. By adopting this practice, we recognise that problems are a natural part of life and that, in most cases, they are transitory. After a bad moment, a good one will follow. And vice versa.

This perspective allows us to avoid the two great companions of stress and anxiety: catastrophism and “all or nothing” thinking.

According to a study published in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine, people who are able to relativise their problems tend to have lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol. By reducing the physiological reaction to stress, the immune system is improved and the risk of chronic stress-related illnesses is reduced.

Now, the theory is easy enough. And the practice, the complicated part. It is important to recognise that not all problems can be solved simply by changing one’s attitude. Positive psychology does not suggest ignoring these realities, but complementing them with practices that can strengthen our emotional resilience. Also in science itself, we find mechanisms that can help us seek that balance.

  • Cognitive reframing: This consists of changing the way we perceive a situation. For example, instead of seeing failure as an indication of incompetence, it can be seen as a learning opportunity. This change of perspective can reduce the negative emotional impact of problems.
  • Mindfulness: Helps to accept the present without judgement. Studies have shown that this practice can reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety, improving the ability to face difficult situations with a clear mind.
  • Gratitude: Keeping a gratitude journal where you record the good things that happen each day can shift your focus from the negative to the positive. Research shows that gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness.
  • Social support network: Having friends and family to share our problems with can be a great source of relief. Positive social interaction has been shown to be an effective buffer against stress.

Lucas Vidal: an example of a positive attitude

Sometimes, we find great examples of positive attitude where we least expect it. Lucas Vidal is known as a composer of soundtracks for films, series, companies and events. His last job, in fact, was to create the Sound Identity for Telefónica. But the new star of Mejor Conectados is also known for tackling his work with an unrivalled attitude.

Lucas Vidal is an example of how a positive attitude and the ability to relativise problems can transform a person’s life. At the age of 21, he was diagnosed with cancer, a situation he dealt with by following his father’s advice and projecting himself into a better future. This attitude not only helped him in his recovery, but also allowed him to move forward in his career with determination.

Vidal stresses the importance of being positive towards oneself and others, especially in times of adversity. During his training, he faced numerous rejections, but his positive approach allowed him to transform every “no” into an opportunity for growth. At the professional level, his empathetic and positive attitude has been key to gaining the trust and respect of his collaborators.

In addition, Vidal stresses the importance of relativising problems, understanding that difficulties are a natural part of life and that it is essential to maintain a balanced perspective. This ability to relativise and remain calm in difficult situations has been crucial to his personal and professional success.


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