The Health Benefits of Positive Thinking

It’s true! Positive thinking can impact both your physical and social health for the better. It acts as an important reminder that how we choose to perceive the world makes a dramatic difference to our functions and behaviors. Scroll below to learn more about the wonderful health benefits of positive thinking.

Researchers continue to explore the effects of positive thinking and optimism on health. Optimism doesn’t mean that you have to stick your head in the sand, but it does, however, mean remaining positive about what’s to come.

As Suzanne Segerstrom, a professor of psychology at the University of Kentucky, puts it: “Happiness is an emotion, a feeling. Optimism is a belief about the future.” Here are some positive effects that optimism could have on your health.

Increased Life Span

Here’s a bit of heartwarming news from Johns Hopkins Medicine: People with a family history of heart disease who also had a positive outlook on life were 1/3 less likely to have a heart attack or other cardiovascular event within five to 25 years than those with a negative outlook. The finding held even in people with a family history who had the most risk factors for coronary artery disease. Wow!

Stress Relief

When faced with stressful situations, positive thinkers cope more effectively than pessimists. In one study, researchers found that when optimists encountered a disappointment (such as not getting a job or promotion) they were more likely to focus on things they could do to resolve the situation. Rather than dwelling on their frustrations or things they could not change, they devised a plan of action and asked others for assistance. Pessimists, on the other hand, simply assumed that the situation was out of their control and there was nothing they could do to change it. Your thoughts matter!

Better Immunity

Suzanne Segerstrom, the University of Kentucky psychologist referenced above, investigated the connection between optimism and immunity to illness. For her study, she recruited 124 incoming law students and had them complete five questionnaires and immunity checks over the course of a year. Segerstrom found that when a student displayed optimistic thinking, they showed greater immunity. A pessimistic outlook, on the other hand, had an actual negative effect on the response of immune cells. Want to prevent a cold? Start thinking positive!

Slows Down Aging

Research published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal shows that pessimistic senior citizens were 80% more likely to experience functional problems, such as less mobility, falling, and incontinence. It pays to have a positive attitude throughout life!

Finally…

Are you a positive person? Did any of the above benefits make you want to become a MORE positive person? I’d love to hear your thoughts at hello@heartandsoulblog.com. For further reading, I recommend 10 Simple Tips for a Happy Life. And I encourage you to sign up for the Heart & Soul newsletter in order to receive more helpful tips straight to your inbox each Friday.

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