Positivity: So you think you could smile?

Salonaz Sami, Wednesday 8 Dec 2021

Ahram Online sat down with a panel of experts on mental wellness to discuss the effects of positive thoughts and language on morale and productivity.


“People are just as happy as they make up their minds to be.” — Abraham Lincoln

“Many people are actually foolish enough to manufacture their own unhappiness,” explained Hagar Ibrahim, a yoga and meditation teacher.  “As if the problems created by life itself, which we have little or no control over, were not enough,” she added.

“Tragedies happen every day, but you can choose to block them out and not allow them to get to you.”

“Because the words we speak and hear have a direct effect on our thoughts and if we only allow positive thoughts into our minds, we will end up with positive ideas and attitudes,” she added.

Like psychiatrists say, you can make the mind give you back anything you want, provided it was first given to the mind.

“How we think we feel has a tremendous effect on how we actually feel,” she said. Sociologist and behavior therapist Kenzy Atef agreed.

“If your mind tells you that you are tired or frustrated, for example, your body mechanism will accept that fact and act accordingly. On the other hand, if your mind told you that you had the energy to do whatever; your nerves and muscles will accept the fact and keep on working,” Atef said.

“When the world pushes you to your knees, you are in the perfect position to pray.” — Rumi

Indeed, attitudes are more important than facts, according to Fatma Mounir, a 32-year-old social researcher.

“Any fact facing us, no matter how difficult or seemingly impossible it might seem, is not as important as our attitude towards it,” Mounir explained.

“In everyday life, situations occur where we allow a certain fact to overwhelm us mentally and thus defeat us before we ever do anything about it.”

“But if you have faith in God and yourself along with the right attitude, you will find that you have within you the power needed to overcome all kinds of obstacles that life might throw your way,” she added.

“If you keep your mind in good shape, you will have an optimistic view of life, and that in turn will affect your health and wellbeing positively,” explained Atef.

“Having a positive attitude will help you recover faster if you are sick. If you simply shift your perspective and focus your energy on being well rather than being sick.” 

According to Ibrahim, depending on the kind of words we use and the tone in which we use them, we can talk ourselves into either positive or negative results. When you are engaged in a group conversation and it becomes upsetting, try Mounir’s advice and start injecting some positive and peaceful ideas into the talk.

“A morning conversation filled with arguments and negative remarks with your spouse or co-worker, for example, will set the tone for the whole day,” she explained.

“However, if you start everyday with a happy and peaceful attitude then your days will most certainly by more fulfilling.”

“But it’s not like you can go to your doctor and ask him to write you a prescription for positivity,” explained Ibrahim. You could, however, choose to believe in yourself and your ability and start thinking positively, right this moment.

“Sit down with a pen and paper and write down a list of all the things that are going for you, rather than against you, in life,” explained Ibrahim. Like your health, family, career, or friends for example. 

“Those are your real assets in life,” she added.

“Believe you can and you are halfway there.” — Theodore Roosevelt

In addition to those assets, the most important thing according to Mounir, is to believe that you have the power within you to change.

“Some people don’t believe that they have it in them to be what they want to be,” explained Mounir. Accordingly, “they try to make themselves content with what they have rather than what they could have,” she added.

Ibrahim agreed, saying that “at any given point in your life, you could stop and choose to start all over again, simply by changing your point of view and mental attitude towards life.”

Always remember that other people, regardless of how confident they look or act, are perhaps as scared and confused as you are. 

“Always keep in mind that if I succeed today, that’s fine, but if I didn’t, there is always tomorrow,” said Mounir.

In one study, published in 2010, researchers found that activation in brain areas associated with negative emotions led to a weaker immune response to a flu vaccine. Researcher Segerstorm and Sephton found that people who were optimistic about a specific aspect of their lives, such as how well they were doing in school, exhibited a stronger immune response than those who had a more negative view of the situation.

“Silence is the element in which great things fashion themselves.” — Thomas Carlyle

Mounir however, blames the increased lack of inner peace and positivity in today’s modern life on the effect that noise has on our nervous systems. Scientists have proved that noise in the places we live or work reduces efficiency to a noticeable degree.

Apparently, the human mental and physical mechanisms never completely adjust to noise. “No matter how familiar the AC’s sound or the car’s horn, for example, has become, no sound passes unheard by the subconscious,” explained Atef.

“In fact, scientists have proved that hearing noise during sleep causes muscular movements which detract from the rest our bodies need,” she added. 

Another very helpful tip from Atef is to practice suggestive articulation.

“Words have powers,” she explained. If you begin to utter panicky words, then your brain will take the hint and start sending signals for your body to act panicky.

“On the contrary, if you start your day by repeating certain peaceful words audibly, your mind will react in a peaceful manner.”

Words can have have healing powers, according to Ibrahim.

“Do this for a couple of days and you will find that these words will have a healing effect on your mind,” she explained. Because what you repeatedly focus your attention on ends up in your realty, according to Ibrahim.

“All you have to do is choose to feel good,” she said. “It’s that simple.”

So, the next time you find yourself emotionally drained on a certain issue, take a step back and try to see things from a different, more positive perspective. After all, you attract to you what you allow your mind to dwell on, so take responsibility for your happiness and start thinking positively right this minute.

“I am the greatest; I said that even before I knew I was” — Mohamed Ali

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