People often mention the power of positive thinking, but where is the evidence that it actually works? Scientists have yet to prove that telling yourself over and over that you will be successful results in success. However, stories from athletes, entrepreneurs, artists, and parents indicate they have found success by creating the habit of positive thinking.

Imagine yourself sinking a last-minute jumper and you will. Picture yourself delivering a stellar sales pitch and you will dazzle your clients. Envision yourself becoming a better painter and soon your brush will listen. No matter the skill, if you actively think you can improve it, over time, you will make steps toward doing so.

Positive thinking also applies to learners.

Imagine you keep telling yourself that Spanish is so hard to learn. “I’m just not a language person,” or “I can’t wait for this class to be over.” Indeed, you will have trouble conjugating verbs and remembering vocabulary. You are setting up obstacles for your brain. Instead, try something like, “Spanish is a life learning activity, and I have just begun,” or “I really like my teacher and trust her to support me as I learn.” Creating a positive attitude toward your learning will open your mind. It will allow you to process ideas better and grasp new concepts.

Take the math lessons with which you have been struggling. “I’m just not a math person,” you say. Well, you are not a math person because you have trained your brain to remind you about it. When your parents ask about your homework, the phrase is automatically reinforced. As soon as you sit down to do a worksheet, once again your brain registers a negative response. In class, when called upon, you immediately freeze up and can’t offer an answer. Why? You have told your brain “you are not a math person.” This phrase has resulted in a negative feeling time and time again. As a result, your whole body feels the negative reinforcement. You may slouch in class or frown when asked a question about math. Negative thinking not only affects your learning, but your body’s physical responses as well.

Teachers encourage learners because it helps create a positive atmosphere. “Sit up straight and pay attention,” they may say. In a setting free of obstacles, learners are more apt to fulfill their potential. The positive atmosphere is reinforced every class, every day. The teacher says, “That’s OK, let’s try to figure out the next problem,” or “Sure, you made a few mistakes, but look at the ones you got right.” If students can tell themselves they are going to do better, they increase their abilities to do so.

Creating positive thinking habits will translate into better learning. You will feel confident when challenges arise. You will stay focused when you think you are bored. If you remind yourself again and again that you ARE a math person, your grades will improve. If you tell yourself that Spanish is fun, you will have a more enjoyable class. Positive thinking helps students learn quicker and more efficiently. That’s the power of positive thinking!

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