Health Benefits For Those Who Think Like An Optimist

Sunday, 7 Apr 2013, 9:01:00 AM

Mark Underwood

Positive thinking is about placing your mind in readiness to find the good and upbeat in negative situations.
Positive thinking is about placing your mind in readiness to find the good and upbeat in negative situations.

Have you ever wondered how some people manage to be in a

good mood all the time? What is it that they know that you don’t about seeing

the glass as “half full” instead of “half empty?”

Many people work at getting physically fit, but not

everyone practices “mental fitness.” Many don’t consciously know how to keep a positive attitude going in

spite of problems we all come up against.

So what are these happy thinkers doing that many people

are not? Let’s start with

lifestyle. No matter where you live or

what chapter of your life you’re in, it’s easy to get the doldrums from time to

time. In some parts of the country winter blahs are blamed while others lead an

overly scheduled lifestyle which brings on daily challenges.

Research has found that the difference between people

who remain cheery when faced with challenges that life doles out and those who

can’t switch off negative thoughts, is the difference in mindsets.

David Snowdon, a professor of neurology at the University

of Kentucky has said that when optimists face problems they are able to “switch

off” negative thoughts and “switch on” a happy state of mind.

Health Benefits For Optimists

Optimism is good for your health, pessimism is not.

Stress can be harmful, yet it is nearly impossible to avoid. As we age, the

effects of stress take a greater toll on our health, from increasing

cholesterol to disrupting sleep.

Individuals that turn a difficult situation into a

workable solution may actually be protecting themselves from the harmful

effects of stress and other health problems.

A 2011 Harvard School of Public Health study found a

significant increase of risk for various health problems including heart

disease in people with negative outlooks.

Studies have also shown that people who can see humor in

difficult situations where others see only anxiety and failure benefit from

keeping a light-hearted outlook.

Living Life Like The Way You Want

There are various degrees and forms of negative

thinking, but results are often the same. It can destroy motivation and energy,

concentration skills, and feelings of self-worth. For some people, they’ve

lived for years with a constant lack of positive thoughts. Instead, they have

replaced them with continual negativity.

Living like this is difficult especially if you do so

every day of the week. Negative thoughts may make you want to avoid deadlines

and responsibilities. You put off daily tasks like cooking and cleaning and

feel like not going to school and work.

Tips For Ramping Up Positive Thinking

It’s one thing to say to say you want a positive

attitude, but it’s another thing to practice optimistic thinking when times are

tough. How do you go from complaining to

having a sunny disposition?

Like most things, the more you practice the better at it

you get. Open the door to being more enthusiastic about life. The more you

consciously put positive thoughts in your head, the more intuitive it will get.

Positivity may be easier

than you think because you can practice it anywhere, anytime without any

special equipment or training. Use these tips to start being a new you.

• Listen for

negativity: Find one place in your daily routine where you often run into

negativity. Listen for your internal

voice emerging that is looking at troubling news as failure. Ignore it. Change

the channel and find a new internal voice that says, “I will get through this

and in the meantime, I’m grateful for what I have.” Do this daily.

• Learn to

laugh: Laughter is one of the most enjoyable ways to let the day’s stressors

melt away. Humor has been studied extensively for its major effect on our well-being.

As social beings we thrive with positive contact with others. Make sure you

have people in your life that make you laugh and can help you lighten the day.

Positive people are contagious.

• Do

something nice (and unexpected) for someone. Research studies have found that

five good deeds a day can make you happier. Look for ways to go out of your way

to be kind to someone. It could be something simple like opening a door for a

shopper whose hands are full or signing up to be a volunteer at a local

organization that gives back to the community.

• Exercise

for mind and body. If you feel fit and healthy, you’re much more likely to want

to feel upbeat and less likely to wallow in everyday problems. Exercise has a

profound effect on our ability to cope with stress. Exercise elevates our moods

and helps fuel positive thinking.

Positive thinking is about placing your mind in

readiness to find the good and upbeat in negative situations. It is not just

window dressing for a problem – it is a technique as well as a lifestyle that

can potentially change your life for the better.

Mark Underwood is

a neuroscience researcher, president, and co-founder of Quincy Bioscience, a

biotech company located in Madison, Wisconsin focused on the discovery,

development, and commercialization of novel technologies to support cognitive

function and other age-related health challenges such as memory. He has been

taped as an expert in the field of neuroscience for The Wall Street Journal

Morning Radio, CBS, and CNN Radio among others. He is also a contributor to the

“Brain Health Guide” which highlights the research at Quincy Bioscience and

offers practical tips to help keep healthy brain function in aging. More

information can be found at

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