Personality traits like optimism and pessimism can affect many areas of our health and well-being, according to the Mayo Clinic. The positive thinking that typically comes with optimism plays a key role in effective stress management. Many studies indicate that stress management is associated with a wide variety of health benefits. Likewise, these studies show that positive thinking is associated with healthy living. But, if you tend to lean toward the negative, fear not! It’s never too late to begin practicing positive thinking.
In my life, I have found that thinking positive is a choice. For some people it comes naturally and for others it requires a conscious effort. Positive thinking doesn’t mean that you bury your head in the sand and ignore things that are upsetting or wrong. Instead, choosing to think positively is how you approach what is unpleasant or potentially upsetting. If you are capable of changing a negative event or situation, approach it in a productive, positive way. If you can’t change it, positive thinking may mean walking away.
Positive thinking often starts with self-talk. We all have a stream of unspoken thoughts that run through our heads every day. This internal dialogue can be positive or negative. Some self-talk comes from logic and reason. Other self-talk may arise from misconceptions that we create because of lack of information.
If the thoughts that run through your head are mostly negative, your outlook on life is more likely pessimistic. If your thoughts are mostly positive, you’re likely an optimist, someone who practices positive thinking.
Researchers continue to explore the effects of positive thinking and optimism on health. Some possible health benefits of positive thinking include:
- Increased life span
- Lower rates of depression
- Lower levels of distress
- Greater resistance to the common cold
- Better psychological and physical well-being
- Reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease
- Better coping skills during hardships and times of stress
Practicing positive thinking can remove emotional burdens from your life. I know that I’m much happier and more fun to be around when I chose to accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative, and embrace life’s possibilities.
By Penny Vittoria, Successful Aging Coach