Researchers from Harvard found that optimists, people who are disposed to take a favorable view of things, have lower blood pressure levels, heart disease rates, and are generally healthier and happier. Moreover, health experts are saying that optimism greatly reduces the risk of stroke.
People face life’s challenges in different ways. Some people have no difficulty “bouncing back”. There are, however, people who have difficult time coping with troubles and challenges in life. They are often referred to as “pessimists”, people who look at the glass “half-empty”.
Unfortunately for people who are like this, one thing is very certain, the more they focus on the negative; they end up more stressed, unhappy, miserable, and unhealthy. Yes, negativity causes stress which eventually causes health problems. People who are stressed have weaker immune system which makes them prone or susceptible to illnesses and/or diseases.
On the other hand, people who have sunny dispositions are healthier and live longer lives. According to University of Pittsburgh Medical Center internist Hilary A. Tindle, MD, MPH, attitude matters when it comes to heart disease and health.
So, what is there to do? Fortunately, medical experts say that something can be done to combat negativity or pessimism – by changing a person’s outlook for the better.
How? Here are some suggestions on how to cultivate and stay on the brighter side of life; how to effectively manage and cope with stress.
1. Focus on What’s Good in Your Life.
There’s a song that says “count your many blessings and name them one by one … There is great truth in this counsel. As one focuses on the good things one has in life, the trials, the challenges, the hardships – all these actually becomes less difficult and more bearable in the end.
Martin Seligman, PhD, a psychology professor at the University of Pennsylvania, published a study in 2017 which asked a group of people to complete the “Three Good Things” exercise. The exercise required the subjects of the study to write three things that went well that day and explain they happened.
The subject did this every night for six months. The result was surprisingly pleasant: at the end of the study the participants were happier and less depressed than when they started. The study showed that by forcing the respondents to think about why good things occur in their lives, they started to see their lives in a more positive way, which helped them become more optimistic of their future.
2. Recognize Everything that You Are Grateful For
Gratitude is a very important part of optimism. A 2016 study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology suggested that there is a strong relationship between having a grateful attitude and a heightened sense of well-being.
Some people suggest keeping a stress diary; I suggest the opposite: Keep a gratitude journal! List down everything that you are grateful for at the end of the day and be assured that as you reflect upon all of them, you will be surprised at how good life really is. This realization will surely help you feel better.
3. Make an Effort to Feel Better – It’ll Come Around
According to Mark C. Brown, PhD, psychologist and author of the upcoming book entitled Live Like a Window, Work Like a Mirror, the mind can be tricked into feeling better by making it respond chemically as if things were going well. He further explained that a genuine smile and a forced smile cause the same chemical reactions in the brain, so when a person acts in an optimistic way, when he smiles, laughs, tells a joke, the mind responds positively.
By: Nicki Jenns