In my mid-30s, I began focusing on the power of positive thinking. Rebel Retiree and I were going through a financial rough patch and I was having a hard time with it. Challenging as it was, I learned a lot about mindset and how optimism affects our everyday lives.
At the time, I was looking at the glass as half empty. I made myself miserable.
Then I had a wake-up call. From then on, I started thinking of my circumstances from the opposite perspective – the glass half full.
My situation improved. Lesson learned. I’ve never looked back.
Moving forward, now that I’m over 60, my interest in positive thinking has taken a new direction. That direction is one of life expectancy.
To clarify, I read a study on Optimism and Healthy Aging in Men and Women. It suggests that positivity towards getting older contributes to higher resilience, better health, and longevity.
It reinforced what I’ve already observed in my life and the life of others.
Because I think knowledge is power, I’ve decided to share the results of the study in brief.
The good news is that if you typically expect the worst to happen, you can learn to cultivate optimism.
Live Longer with Positive Thinking
The 2019 study on optimism and aging is worthy of our attention. In fact, it provides considerable evidence that you can reduce your risk of chronic disease and cognitive decline with positive thinking.
For example, the positive thinkers in the group reported less stress, better health, and higher happiness than the negative thinkers.
Additionally, the positive thinking participants’ zest for life gave them better resiliency. In other words, they recovered from difficulties faster than their pessimistic counterparts.
Their positive attitudes towards life and getting older reflected a strong will to live.
With that in mind, it was concluded that positive thinking may help you increase your longevity by 7 to 7 1/2 years!
What Are the Benefits of Positive Thinking?
The benefits of positive thinking are amazing!
Continuing to speak on the above-mentioned study, the men and women who expected good things to happen in their lives scored higher on cognitive and physical tests.
In other words, the optimistic participants had better memories and more physical strength.
Furthermore, those with positive attitudes had better cardiovascular health with fewer chronic conditions such as heart disease and diabetes.
All things considered, research shows that a positive outlook on life and aging often leads to healthier habits. Therefore, healthier habits lead to better health. Consequently, better health leads to a longer life.
Above all, even if you’re not naturally optimistic (optimism is about 23% to 32% heritable) you can easily cultivate optimism and reap the benefits of positive thinking.
7 Tips on How to Cultivate Optimism
Do you approach aging with confidence? Do you look on the bright side of life?
Understandably, staying positive isn’t always easy, especially during trying times. However, with a little practice, it can be done.
Indeed, it will change your life for the better.
No. 1 – Pay attention to your thoughts.
Listen to your inner dialogue. Is it positive or negative? Negative thought patterns make you feel gloomy. They counteract the power of positive thinking which makes you feel upbeat. That’s because negative thinking influences your life as well as positive thinking. Choose the power of positive thinking for your health and well-being. For example, when negative thoughts arise, substitute 2 positive thoughts for every negative one. After 21 days of practice, you’ll establish the habit of positive thinking.
No. 2 – Practice smiling.
I’ve heard it said that smiling is nature’s anti-depressant. Certainly, we’ve all experienced the genuine smile of a friend or stranger. And when you return that smile, it uplifts the giver and receiver with warm and positive feelings. However, smiling to yourself in private rewards you with the same positive benefits. Even a forced half-smile influences your emotions. As a result, your mood improves. Then, you feel happier and more positive. Plus, smiling has the added benefit of lowering blood pressure. Smile throughout your day for the most benefit.
No. 3 – Use visual meditation.
Visual meditation is an imagery exercise that helps motivate and produce positive results in working towards goals. To get started, find a spot where you can be quiet and alone for approximately 15 minutes. Then, make yourself comfortable. Close your eyes and visualize yourself growing older with confidence. For example, picture a happy and healthy retirement. Picture yourself doing all of the things you love. Visualize with detail anything that would bring positivity into your life. Practice positive thinking with visual imagery as often as you can. With this purpose in mind, establish a habit of positive thinking by picturing your best self.
No. 4 – Develop an attitude of gratitude.
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If you have a gratitude journal, great! If not, a notebook works just fine. However, you don’t need special writing materials to express gratitude. Simple positive thoughts on arising in the morning make for an uplifting and productive day. Perhaps you’re thankful for the ability to experience another day, a beautiful, sunrise, or a warm cup of tea. On the other hand, reflecting on your day at bedtime helps to relieve stress and prepare for a good night’s sleep. Think of 5 things you’re grateful for. It could be as simple as a good book, a warm blanket, a loving spouse, a loyal pet, or healthy grandchildren. In short, the idea is to develop a daily habit of positive thinking and reflection.
No. 5 – Associate with positive people.
Negative people who gossip and those waiting for the next shoe to drop all bring positive energy down. Surround yourself with positive influences – optimistic people that uplift and support you. Focus on spending quality time with others who have positive attitudes – those who look for the best, not the worst.
No. 6 – Have an abundance mentality.
Spending time in nature helps to develop an abundance mentality. Take a moment to look out of your window each day to get a glimpse of nature’s abundance. For instance, regularly look up at the sky and clouds and fill your mind with wonderment. Having an abundance mentality shifts your mindset from less to one of more. With this in mind, learn to appreciate what you have regardless of how much you have.
No. 7 – Embrace getting older.
Don’t let negative stereotypes on aging fill your mind and make you depressed. Develop a positive attitude by showing enthusiasm for life. Don’t take life too seriously. Be fun. Stay active. Participate in activities that bring you joy. To this end, embrace change. To not do so will keep you stuck. Think of it this way, getting older is all part of growing up. With this in mind, I suggest you go with the flow and enjoy it. To do this, release your fears and live with the contentment that you live in a field of all possibilities.
Considerable evidence, including anecdotal (my personal experience), indicates that the power of positive thinking affects our lives in favorable ways. Additionally, it’s been shown that people with positive attitudes often live longer, healthier lives – up to 7 to 7 1/2 years longer! Although some people are not natural-born optimists, the good news is that with practice, anyone can cultivate optimism. With that said, positive thinking is a worthwhile endeavor that creates positive results.
Optimism and Healthy Aging in Women and Men
Optimism is Associated with Exceptional Longevity
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- Countdown to a Healthier Retirement (10 Positive Lifestyle Choices)
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