The Big Q: Is your glass half-empty or half-full?
How you answer that age-old Question about positive thinking reflects your outlook on life, your attitude toward yourself, and if you are optimistic or pessimistic.
Some studies show that personality traits such as optimism and pessimism can affect many areas of your health and well-being.
The positive thinking that usually comes with optimism is a Key part of effective stress management. And effective stress management is associated with lots health benefits.
If you tend to be pessimistic, do not fret, you can learn positive thinking skills.
Positive thinking does not mean that you ignore life’s less pleasant happenings. Positive thinking means that you approach unpleasantness in a more positive and productive way.
That you think the best is going to happen, not the worst.
If the thoughts that run through your mind are mostly negative, your outlook on life is likely pessimistic.
If your thoughts are mostly positive, you are likely an optimist, someone who practices positive thinking.
Researchers are exploring the effects of positive thinking and optimism on health.
Health benefits that positive thinking may provide include the following:
- 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 theory on the why people experience the health benefits is that having a positive outlook enables us to cope better with stressful situations, which reduces the harmful health effects of stress on the body.
It is also thought that positive and optimistic people tend to live healthier lifestyles; they get more physical activity, follow a healthy diet, and do not smoke or drink alcohol in excess.
With practice you can learn to turn negative thinking into positive thinking. The process is simple, but it does take time and does not happen over night.
Below are some ways to think and behave in a more positive and optimistic way, as follows:
- Identify areas to change. If you want to become more optimistic and engage in more positive thinking, 1st identify areas of your life that you usually think negatively about, whether it is work, your daily commute or a relationship. You can start small by focusing on 1 area to approach in a more positive way.
- Check yourself. During the day, stop, evaluate your thoughts. If you find that your thoughts are mainly negative, try to find a way to put a positive spin on them.
- Be open to humor. Smile or laugh, especially during difficult times. Seek humor in everyday things. When you can laugh at life, you feel less stressed.
- Follow a healthy lifestyle. Aim to exercise for about 30 mins on most days of the wk. You can also break it up into 10-min frames during the day. Exercise can positively affect mood and reduce stress. Follow a healthy diet to fuel your mind and body, that means eat Real food.
- Surround yourself with positive people. Make sure those in your life are positive, supportive people you can depend on to give helpful advice and feedback. Negative people can increase your stress level and make you doubt your ability to manage stress in healthy ways.
- Be mindful and thankful for that is good in your life.
- Do not ‘count other people’s money’ as envy is deadly.
- Do not be afraid.
If you tend to have a negative outlook, do not expect to become an optimist overnight. But with practice you may become less critical of the world around you.
When our state of mind is optimistic, we are better able to handle everyday stress. That ability may contribute to the widely observed health benefits of positive thinking.
Early in my life my father taught me to never let anything disturb my peace of mind, that there are no negatives in life, that everything happens for a reason; figure it out and make it work for you.
My friend, economist Bruce WD Barren told me when we were discussing resilience over dinner recently told me that as a boy his father told him to think positive, be an optimist because no good come from being depressed.
Have a healthy week, Keep the Faith!