It may sound a bit hokey, but it also may be true; your outlook on life may impact your health. Research has shown that people with a more upbeat attitude tend to have lower rates of numerous physical and mental illnesses. Believe it or not, turning your frown upside down may make a lasting positive impact on your health.
The secret behind the link between positive thinking and good health can be summed up in two words – stress management. Optimistic people tend to approach stressful situations with the attitude that all will be right in the end. Because of this cheerful state of thinking, positive people are not heavily affected by stress. Pessimistic people, on the other hand, will likely anticipate and expect the worst possible scenario to unfold. Consequentially, they will begin to dread the resolution from an upcoming problem, and will begin to suffer from the effects of stress.
The Importance of Self-Talk
If you find yourself succumbing to negative thoughts, you might benefit from a technique known as self-talk. Self-talk refers to the constant unspoken thoughts produced by your mind everyday. Depending on your personality, this self-talk is either automatically negative or positive. Generally speaking, if you find that your self-talk is mostly positive, you are probably an optimist; conversely, if you self-talk is negative, you are likely a pessimist.
Are You a Pessimist or an Optimist?
There are several ways to determine if your self-talk is negative or positive. Pessimists tend to exhibit the following behaviors:
- Magnifying negative aspects of their day, while minimizing positive events
- Assigning unnecessary blame to themselves when things go awry
- Always expecting the worst possible outcomes
- Seeing things in terms of either a total failure or complete success; their can be no partial victories
Don’t be alarmed if you find yourself lapsing into these counterproductive thinking patterns. There are a number of strategies and techniques you can use to turn around your self-talk, and by extension your outlook on daily life.
First, determine which areas of your life are the sources of your negative thoughts; they might be related to work, your daily commute or a romantic relationship. If there are multiple problem areas that cause negative thoughts, you can start slowly by focusing on just one of these areas.
- Throughout your day, consciously check and see if your thoughts are positive or negative. If they tend to be pessimistic, try and look on the brighter side of things.
- A good laugh or joke may help you plow through tough periods. When appropriate, attempt to find humor in bland, tiring or trite events.
- Exercising three times per week and following a healthy diet not only boosts your physical health, but they also can go a long way towards improving your mental outlook on daily life.
- The saying “misery loves company” has some truth to it, as negative thoughts tend to feed off of other negative people. Try and remove these negative individuals from your routines, and replace them with more optimistic acquaintances.
- Another idea is to consciously practice positive self-talk; try to find silver linings in any black clouds. A good guideline to follow is to not think any thoughts to yourself that you would not say to other people.
Benefits of Positive Thinking
Positive thinking doesn’t just make your day easier; it can also improve your long-term health. Here’s a list of possible health benefits that are sure to put a smile on your face:
- A longer life span
- Reduced rates of depression
- Reduced levels of distress
- Increased immune system defense against the common cold
- Improved psychological and physical health
- Lower chance of dying from cardiovascular disease
- An improved ability to handle stress and hardships
A better attitude can serve as the first step to a more fulfilling life. By turning your frame of mind from negative to positive, you stand a good chance of giving your overall health a long-lasting tune up.