We have all heard these quotes about having a
positive outlook on life.
“Look on the sunny side of life.”
“Turn your face toward the sun, and the shadows will fall behind you.”
“Every day may not be good, but there is something good in every day.”
“See the glass as half-full, not half-empty.”
These quotes, and more like them, are often heard from folks that are called ‘cockeyed optimists’. However, researchers are finding that thoughts like these can do far more than raise one’s spirits. They may improve health and extend life.
Accordingly, there is no longer any doubt that what happens in our brain does influence what happens in the body. Studies show an indisputable link between having a positive outlook and health benefits like lower blood pressure, healthier blood sugar levels, better weight control, and less heart disease. Even when faced with an incurable disease, a positive outlook can change ones’ quality of life.
Dr Wendy Schlessel Harpham, an author of several books for people facing cancer, including Happiness in a Storm, was a practicing internist when she learned she had non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a cancer of the immune system, 27 years ago. “Fostering positive emotions helped make my life the best it could be,” Harpham said. “They made the tough times easier, even though they didn’t make any difference in my cancer cells.”
New research is demonstrating that people can learn skills that help them experience more positive emotions when faced with the severe stress of a life-threatening illness.
Here are eight ways to have a positive outlook on life, and improve your overall health
- Recognize a positive event each day.
- Savor that event and log it in a journal or tell someone about it.
- Start a daily gratitude journal.
- List a personal strength and note how you used it.
- Set an attainable goal and note your progress.
- Report a relatively minor stress and list ways to refocus on the event positively.
- Recognize and practice small acts of kindness daily.
- Practice mindfulness, focusing on the here and now rather than the past or future.
Even if you practice only a few of these, you are sure to end the day on a happier note.