Is your glass half-empty or half-full? Anyone who knows me, knows I’m a half-full kind of girl. I tend to look for the positive in every situation. I’ve often wondered how much of this type of thinking is genetic and how much is learned behavior.
Regardless, your outlook on life, your attitude toward yourself, and whether you’re an optimist or a pessimist could affect your health.
The positive thinking optimist is probably handling their stress a whole lot better than the negative thinking pessimist. Effective stress management is associated with many health benefits.
The Mayo Clinic has a great article on Positive Thinking and it’s health benefits. From the Mayo Clinic:
Positive thinking doesn’t mean that you keep your head in the sand and ignore life’s less pleasant situations. Positive thinking just means that you approach the unpleasantness in a more positive and productive way. You think the best is going to happen, not the worst.
Positive thinking often starts with self-talk. Self-talk is the endless stream of unspoken thoughts that run through your head every day. These automatic thoughts can be positive or negative. Some of your self-talk comes from logic and reason. Other self-talk may arise from misconceptions that you create because of lack of information.
If the thoughts that run through your head are mostly negative, your outlook on life is more likely pessimistic. If your thoughts are mostly positive, you’re likely an optimist — someone who practices positive thinking.
The health benefits of positive thinking
Researchers continue to explore the effects of positive thinking and optimism on health. Health benefits that positive thinking may provide include:
Increased life span
Lower rates of depression
Lower levels of distress
Greater resistance to the common cold
Better psychological and physical well-being
Reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease
Better coping skills during hardships and times of stress
It’s unclear why people who engage in positive thinking experience these health benefits. One theory is that having a positive outlook enables you to cope better with stressful situations, which reduces the harmful health effects of stress on your body. It’s also thought that positive and optimistic people tend to live healthier lifestyles — they get more physical activity, follow a healthier diet, and don’t smoke or drink alcohol in excess.
You know how people always tell you to put a smile on your face and it will make you feel better? Well, when I was in college, one of my acting teachers had a workshop where he used masks for all of us. These were various masks from sad, to happy, to silly, to crazy. We each chose a mask and put it on. There were mirrors for us to look at ourselves with the masks on.
A strange thing happened when we looked in the mirror. At least for me. The longer I looked at myself in the mirror, the more I started to feel the emotion of what the mask portrayed. From the behavior of the rest of my classmates, I think they experienced this as well.
Even if you don’t feel positive and happy. Put your own “mask” on. Talk to yourself and give yourself a pep talk. Believe things will work out for the best.
Because it’s been my experience they usually do.