They say you can do anything with the right attitude, but what if we told you that includes improving your cardiovascular health and increasing your longevity?
That’s what a new study suggests.
After studying eight years’ worth of data on about 70,000 women, Harvard researchers found that the most optimistic individuals were much less likely to die from cardiovascular disease and related conditions like stroke, as well as respiratory disease, cancer, and infections.
The optimistic subjects tended to have healthier behaviors, including getting regular exercise, eating better, getting better sleep, all of which contribute to a reduced risk of death.
Other studies have shown that happier seniors live longer, and higher optimism has been linked to higher antioxidant levels, lower inflammation, and healthier cholesterol levels – all good for heart and overall health.
If you’re not the glass-half-full type, don’t worry – you can learn to be more optimistic. Here are some get-happy habits you can incorporate right away:
7 Ways to Be More Optimistic
Keep a Journal. Writing down all the good things in life, daily or weekly – accomplishments you’re proud of, interesting things that happen, people who make you happy – will help you feel gratitude in your heart and positivity in your mind.
Take Control. It’s easier to feel optimistic about health situations you can control. Choose a few things that you know you can do, like taking a brisk walk a few nights a week, or eating a piece of fruit every day. As you gain control, you’ll feel optimistic that you can do even more.
Experience Life. Rather than focusing on what you have or don’t have, do things! Go out with friends and family, travel, participate in social events, learn a new skill, dance, sing – all of these things can improve your quality of life, decrease stress, and make you feel happier and more positive.
Be Spiritual. Religious and spiritual people tend to be happier, so find your center in faith or spirituality. The sense of calm spirituality can bring may help you feel optimistic about any challenges you face.
Smile. Like yawns, smiles are contagious. And when you’re smiling, things just seem brighter, happier, funnier, better, and less stressful, according to science.
Be Kind. Kindness is a gift that gives back. When you show kindness to another person, it boosts your mood, too. It doesn’t even have to be a grand gesture – just a small act of kindness from the heart will spread happiness all around.
Find Balance. Know that you can’t be optimistic all the time, and that’s OK! Just try to balance out the not-so-good stuff with encouraging thoughts, because every day is an exercise in being more optimistic.
While it may seem easier said than done, practicing positivity every day will help you reap benefits in both health and happiness.
David H. Rahm, M.D. is the founder and medical director of The Wellness Center, a medical clinic located in Long Beach, CA. Dr. Rahm is also president and medical director of VitaMedica. Dr. Rahm is one of a select group of conventional medical doctors who have education and expertise in functional medicine and nutritional science. Over the past 20 years, Dr. Rahm has published articles in the plastic surgery literature and educated physicians about the importance of good peri-operative nutrition.