“Growing old is mandatory but growing up is optional!” Though it’s just one of the many cliches centered around aging, it holds a great deal of truth. For decades, getting older has been viewed as a negative part of life; people tend to focus on the pill boxes, walkers, wrinkles, aches and pains, and other less desirable aspects that are often associated with old age. However, science has proven that your mindset plays a role in your longevity. Having a positive outlook on aging, especially from a young age, can increase your lifespan by 11-15%. So, instead of dreading getting old, try adopting an optimistic point-of-view and take the “glass half full” approach instead! Not only will you increase your odds of living a longer life, but you’ll also improve the quality of those years in many ways.
Positive thinking, in all aspects of life, plays an extremely important role in your overall physical and mental health. While we can’t always turn a blind eye to unfortunate circumstances, nor can we avoid them entirely, we do have the power to approach them with an optimistic outlook. In doing so, we have a tendency to see the best in situations, allowing ourselves to be more positive and productive. This type of positive thinking is responsible for the following health benefits:
- Lower levels of stress and anxiety
- Lower rates of depression
- Reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, cancer, and infection
- Increased immunity and illness resistance
- Greater resilience and coping skills
- Better physical and psychological well-being
- More productivity
- More meaningful relationships
These health benefits are convincing enough to make any Debbie Downer strive to have a more optimistic outlook on life, particularly on the aging process. If you tend to be more pessimistic, you shouldn’t expect to become an optimist overnight. However, there are steps you can take to start moving in the right direction to embrace positive thinking.
This simple journaling activity forces you to step back, take a look at your day, and find things for which you are grateful. You can keep it short and sweet with a couple of bullet points each day, highlighting a few specific areas, or you can make it more elaborate with a full journal entry, expanding on your thoughts and feelings. The format is completely up to you and there is no right or wrong way to do it, so long as you do it; consistency is key in developing the habit of positive thinking.
Surround Yourself with Good Company
“They” say that your vibe attracts your tribe, and we couldn’t agree more! Surround yourself with positive thinkers, or optimists, and you’ll soon see that their good vibes will rub off on you too. Take a moment to think about how you feel with the company you keep. Do they make you feel negative and gloomy? Positive, happy, and lighthearted? Seek out the latter and spend the majority of your time with people who make you feel good. If you have family and friends who tend to be “Negative Nancys” try to limit the time you spend with them, so that they don’t drag you down on your way to becoming a positive person.
Let Positive Affirmations be Your Mantra
Self-talk is the inner voice that guides you throughout the day. Are you constantly feeding yourself negative advice and thoughts? Stop, check in on yourself, and evaluate the steady stream of thoughts running through your mind. If you notice a negative pattern, make a conscious effort to put a positive spin on what you’re telling yourself. Repeat positive affirmations until you truly believe them. Tell yourself things like “I can handle this”, “Today is going to be a good day”, or “Nothing is going to stop me from reaching my goals”. These phrases, or similar mantras, will become the guiding force for your own success and positive thinking.
Don’t take yourself too seriously and try to make it a great day! If things don’t go your way, brush it off and try to look for the positive swing. Avoid viewing every little hiccup along the way as a personal attack, but instead, look for the humor in situations where you may not have previously done so. Sometimes, you’ve just got to laugh, because if you don’t, you’ll cry. Take these opportunities to regroup, clear your mind, and forge on! Being able to laugh at life, and smile along the way, allows you to feel less stressed. When you take a step back, you’ll often realize what seemed like a big deal, is often just a little bump in the road.