Would you call yourself a pessimist or an optimist? Do you find it easier to notice the good in a situation or the bad? Guess what? There are benefits to being a Pollyanna that might surprise you. For instance, experts at John Hopkins Medicine found good news for those with heart disease in their family history. If you have a positive outlook, you are decreasing your heart attack risk by a third.
Ways to Stay Positive
Studies are showing that even if you are the type to see the glass as half empty, it might pay off in better health to start focusing on the part that is half full.
Additionally, those facing an incurable diagnosis, or those in home care after a stroke have a better chance at quality of life by thinking positively.
Researchers are still trying to hone in on the connection between positiveness and health. For now, they think it could have to do with less stress in the happier types. Because stress that is left unchecked can lead to inflammation in one’s system. And chronic inflammation further leads to serious health problems in the short and long term.
In other studies, researchers have found that thinking negative thoughts can lead to a weakened immune system.
Not yet convinced that you should ditch your cynicism? Here are some quick facts from Mental Health America that might persuade you to give optimism a go:
- Pessimistic people have almost a 20 percent higher risk of dying in the next 30 years than optimistic people.
- People who write out what they are grateful for once a week have fewer physical ailments or complaints than those who don’t keep track.
- Self-proclaimed negative thinkers are able to change their thought patterns. And after doing so, researchers found that their brain activity changed as well.
Overall, optimists and positive thinkers were found to have longer life-spans and less risk of cardiovascular disease.
Personality Versus Self-Talk
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Feel that your outlook can’t change? That your thought patterns are rigid and your cynicism, realism, or whatever you call it is simply who you are. Your personality. Guess what? Mayo Clinic states that positive thinking is simply about how you approach situations. That is, it’s all about how you talk to yourself.
Of course, if your first reaction to a calamity, challenge, sickness, or something else is a negative one, that’s only natural. Our initial reactions to events are often primal. If something seems to threaten our safety or put us at risk, our fight or flight response kicks in. But instead of letting that take you down a negative road, focus on what you can do to rectify the situation. Not only will you be turning the situation into a positive one, which will lessen the stress you feel. But you will also be creating a productive and actionable plan that will boost your optimism for a better outcome.
Tips for Cultivating a Brighter Outlook
Ready to get the benefits of positiveness? Not sure where to start? Here are some actions that can help you kick start this surprising new health habit.
Look for the good in the bad. Do you feel you have a target on your back when it comes to bad situations? Maybe you think you can’t start up a positiveness habit as there’s nothing good that ever happens to you? Why not start there? Ask yourself in what ways this difficult situation is causing you to grow, challenge or stretch yourself. Be grateful for your personal growth or the new skill set you are learning through it.
Write a thankfulness journal. Sale a journal and dedicate the first 5 minutes of your day to thinking and then writing out one thing you are thankful for. Or, do it as part of your evening ritual. When establishing a new habit, experts claim that tying it to an already established habit will help to anchor the new habit and make it easier to adopt. Whether you journal in the morning or the evening, embed it into your routine in whatever way feels most comfortable to you.
Enjoy the little things. It’s not just the once a year trip abroad that you should focus on. Find and treasure the little things that bring a smile to your face and help brighten your day. Often it takes going a bit slower and allowing yourself to savor the things you like. Slow down, acknowledge, and enjoy. Doing this will help you feel more positive and optimistic about your future.
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