Updated February 8, 2019
As a physician, I have witnessed first-hand how cognitive habits can actually have a real impact on your health and well-being. Take, for instance, when you are stressed out, your muscles may get tense, your eating habits may change, your sex drive can take a nosedive, and you can fall into patterns of sadness or anxiety. Conversely, positive and more realistic views can lead to a longer, healthier life. Additionally, it turns out that possessing productive thoughts helps us to move toward a feeling of contentment. Therefore, it only makes sense that positive thinking and self-growth can increase your overall health, well-being and happiness. Let’s go over the benefits of being an optimistic thinker to further support its importance.
Better Heart Health
Negativity and stress impact the heart’s ability to function and contribute to cardiac issues. A Denmark study showed that Heart disease patients with a positive attitude were 42 percent less likely to die over a five-year period than those with a negative attitude, and this boost in survival may be due to increased exercise. When you’re generally happier and more optimistic, you tend to engage in healthier habits that contribute to the strength of your heart such as daily exercise and eating well.
According to a study led by Rosalba Hernandez, a professor of social work at the University of Illinois, optimists are twice as likely to be in ideal cardiovascular health. Further, optimistic individuals recover more quickly following cardiac-related events, such as coronary artery bypass surgery and myocardial infarction, with a more rapid return to a normal lifestyle and a better-reported quality of life.
Stress takes a toll on how your body copes with disease and other threats. The wear and tear of constant worry leaves your immune system weakened and vulnerable. Positive thinking keeps stress at bay. Being happy can actually strengthen your immune system, helping you to fight off disease and live a healthier life. Optimism is associated with lower levels of distress, slower disease progression, and improved survival rates in patients with HIV.
In a study published in the journal Aging, researchers surveyed people who were over the age of 95 and found that most of them had positive personality traits, making them upbeat and relaxed about life. That suggests personality traits such optimism could be part of the longevity genes mix. What scientists found out was that many of the near-centenarians were optimistic, easygoing, liked to laughed and were outgoing than introverted. They also were more likely to express their emotions, rather than keeping it all inside. By not internalizing stress, some researcher propose that it lowers the risk of chronic disease.
Become More Resilient
Resiliency is the ability to bounce back from life stressors. Resilient people deal with events like tragedy and loss with effective coping strategies and in ways that help them to move on successfully with their lives. Those who don’t possess this trait are more likely to languish in a compromised state such as depression or addiction when faced with harsh circumstances. When you possess a positive mindset, you tend to be more resilient because your self-talk is helpful to your situation, pushing you to move past the current obstacle instead of immersing yourself in the emotional pain. The overall life benefits of resiliency can be transformative.
As you can see, the health benefits of positive thinking are quite dramatic. The studies and effort researchers have put into this topic demonstrate its importance and relevance to wellbeing. You can drastically improve your whole life just by making concerted efforts to turn your cognitions around. That definitely seems worth the effort and can lead to not only to a healthy life, but a happy one as well.
Happy Thoughts Reinforce Happiness
The ways you think actually alter the chemistry of your brain. Negativity slows your brain down and diminishes its functioning. Consistent negative thoughts can rewire your brain in a manner that contributes to sadness and depression. Positive and happy thinking stimulates the production of the feel-good chemical, serotonin, while decreasing the mind-slowing chemical, cortisol. If you want a productive and sharp brain, making a concerted effort to think good thoughts can definitely go far toward achieving that goal.
Thoughts rooted in positivity support the growth and health of your brain, particularly in the prefrontal cortex portion that controls thinking and emotional response. Furthermore, our brains are configured in a way that reinforces pleasure. Therefore, your mind essentially rewards you when it is exposed to something good. It’s a chain reaction in which happiness begets happiness. The trick is to get the positivity ball rolling in the first place. Once you do, you’ll reap all kinds of rewards. Being positive increases your mental productivity, which leads to enhanced cognition, or thinking skills.
Call to Action: This 7-part blog challenge stressed how thinking positively is a habit that must be formed. Begin this process by stopping yourself when you notice a poor reaction to a life event. Take proactive steps to reframe the thoughts in a better way. The more you practice this process, the more natural it will become. You’ll find yourself reacting positively more often and your happiness increasing by the day. Focusing on this intention will help you achieve the health and happiness you seek and deserve.
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This was very informative and , yes, it is helpful. Thank You!
Carina Hopen MD says
Thank you Gracin.
With my own personal experience added to my background in medicine in gerontology, I finally made the connection between the relevance of positive thinking as it related to getting older. Many people focus on the short-term benefits–i.e. stress reduction that lead to a more balanced life. However, in the long-term, with less stress on the body, there is a decreased risk of chronic illnesses like hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease. This is really why we need to focus on self-care and positive thinking.
I totally agree. I find that as I age, I need to make an effort to see things in a positive light. Life’s demands seem to rob me of the feeling that I am in control of my own life. I believe that getting organized …. will free up the time I crave for self-care and more productive creative time. And this is where the goal the goal setting comes in.