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Student Success Guide

Positive Attitude


The research is clear on positive attitude

and thinking-



Check out the tips below on how to put positive thinking into practice.



According to the Mayo Clinic Staff (2019), "Health benefits that positive thinking may provide include:

  • Increased life span
  • Lower rates of depression
  • Lower levels of distress
  • Greater resistance to the common cold
  • Better psychological and physical well-being
  • Better cardiovascular health and reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease
  • Better coping skills during hardships and times of stress"

One of the main keys to change your negative thoughts to positive thoughts is identifying when you are thinking or having negative thoughts and reframing them to be more positive.  According to the Mayo Clinic Staff (2019):

"Putting positive thinking into practice
Negative self-talk Positive thinking
I've never done it before. It's an opportunity to learn something new.
It's too complicated. I'll tackle it from a different angle.
I don't have the resources. Necessity is the mother of invention.
I'm too lazy to get this done. I wasn't able to fit it into my schedule, but I can re-examine some priorities.
There's no way it will work. I can try to make it work.
It's too radical a change. Let's take a chance.
No one bothers to communicate with me. I'll see if I can open the channels of communication.
I'm not going to get any better at this. I'll give it another try."

You can easily see the difference between the Negative Self-Talk column compared to the Positive Thinking.  The challenging part is to identify when you are having these negative thoughts and then reframe them to be positive.  It takes effort at first, but as you do it more and more, your brain will be trained to be more positive in its thought process compared to being negative.




Mayo Clinic Staff. (2017, February 18).  Positive thinking: Stop negative self-talk to reduce stress.  Retrieved from: 


Perception is key. Positive thoughts can help to create your reality.

Turn negative thoughts such as “I can’t do this” or “I’ll never get this right” to “I can do this” or “I will always put forth my best effort and overcome any challenge.”

"Worst Day Ever" Poem written by a New York Teen

The poem’s message at first seems bleak, but read it upside down, and it gives a whole new — and inspirational — message.

The full text of the poem reads as follows:

Today was the absolute worst day ever

And don’t try to convince me that

There’s something good in every day

Because, when you take a closer look,

This world is a pretty evil place.

Even if

Some goodness does shine through once in a while

Satisfaction and happiness don’t last.

And it’s not true that

It’s all in the mind and heart


True happiness can be obtained

Only if one’s surroundings are good

It’s not true that good exists

I’m sure you can agree that

The reality


My attitude

It’s all beyond my control

And you’ll never in a million years hear me say that

Today was a good day

Now read the poem from the bottom to the top.

The power is in your hands. Make it a GOOD day!


How to turn your Positive Thinking into Actionable Steps

It takes more than just a dream to reach success. A positive attitude alone does not account for positive changes in outcome (Oettingen 2015). Follow the WOOP process below to help turn your dreams into reality.

Why use the WOOP process?

Use this mental strategy to fulfill your wishes and change your habits. Oettingen explains that pleasure derived from simply thinking positively can get in the way of us taking actionable steps towards actually attaining the dream (2015). Mental contrasting using the WOOP process can help you actively envision the barriers that might get in your way (Oettingen, 2015).

  1. Wish: in 3-6 words, describe a goal that is both challenging and feasible
  2. Outcome: label the positive benefit of achieving this goal
  3. Obstacle: name the current or potential internal obstacles t getting in the way of achieving the goal
  4. Plan: create a plan to deal with the obstacles: if ____, then _____


Download the App

The app guides you through the four steps of WOOP (Wish, Outcome, Obstacle, Plan) and allows you to save as many WOOPs as you would like.

Defensive Pessimism

Optimism and positive thinking does not come natural to all people. Good news-->

Experts say that Defensive Pessimism, which somewhat mirrors Oettingen’s idea of Mental Contrasting, offers benefits to those who are innately less positive (Castaneda, 2018). Instead of dreaming of a best-case-situation, Defensive Pessimists envision many different scenarios and outcomes, and prepare for all possibilities. Defensive Pessimism can be particularly useful when dealing with scary or anxiety-ridden situations like health outcomes. While an optimist might want to avoid hearing bad news or be ill-equipped to deal with negative results, a Defensive Pessimist has likely already considered and prepared for such situations.


Want to learn more about Rethinking Positive Thinking and WOOP? Check out these additional resources and videos!

Re-Thinking Positive Thinking- Link to Rasmussen University eBook

Achieving Behavior Change Presentation by Gabriele Oettingen

Book Review by Brian Johnson

WOOP Micro Class by Brian Johnson



Generate Press. (2019, May 22). 50 Positive Attitude Quotes to Highlight the Power of Attitude. Retrieved June 22, 2019,                    from

Castaneda, R. (2018, September 28). The Surprising Health Benefits of 'Defensive Pessimism'. Retrieved June 22, 2019, from

Oettingen, G. (2015). Rethinking positive thinking: Inside the new science of motivation. NY, NY: Current.

Additional Resources

There are a lot of books, videos, blog articles, news articles, research, and information on the benefits and effects of positive thinking and having a positive attitude.  It is encouraged to start your research with these resources: