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The Relationship Between Optimism, Health and Aging

The Relationship Between Optimism, Health and Aging

By Susan Williams

Would you consider yourself to be optimistic? 

You know – the type of person that is hopeful and confident about the future?

Well it turns out that having a sense optimism can have an impact on your overall health as you age. So much so that people who considered themselves “most” optimistic felt 12.5 years younger than their actual age.

And the benefits don’t just stop there.

In the study conducted by Humana, they also discovered;

“Seniors who rated themselves as most optimistic also reported positively on other attributes linked to health, including sleep, confidence and overall happiness. Compared to their least optimistic counterparts, in the last week:

  • 39 percent more of the most optimistic respondents reported feeling confident
  • 46 percent more reported feeling happy
  • 31 percent fewer reported having restless sleep

Even optimists who described their health as fair or poor reported eight fewer physically unhealthy days and seven fewer mentally unhealthy days than their less optimistic counterparts”

So, what if you’re not naturally optimistic? Is there anything you can do?

An article on Psychology Today titled “Becoming More Optimistic” suggested taking the following steps;

Notice Your Negativity

Keep track of your negative thoughts on a regular basis and notice the negative assumptions and conclusions you make. Identification of your negativity is essential to any type of change.

When Saying Something Negative, Try to Think of Something Positive Instead

If you find yourself about to say something negative, try and stop and replace it with something positive. Even if it doesn’t necessarily “ring true” to you at the moment. If you’re not used to doing this, it may feel false when you first start.

If You Identify A Negative Thought – Write It Down

If you happen to identify a negative thought write it down. Then write down what the evidence is to support this thinking. Next write down evidence that doesn’t support this thinking. Chances are in the beginning you may find it easier to identify evidence to support the negative thought but over time you should see this change.

Search For Positive Aspects of a Situation

If you find yourself thinking or saying something negative in a situation, try to find something positive instead. For example, if you lost your job – trying thinking this gives you the opportunity to find a better job that you wouldn’t have normally have looked for. Each situation has a positive and negative side – if you keep telling yourself the positive you will begin to believe it.

Think Of Someone Who Has A Positive Outlook and Try to Be Like Them

Chances are you know someone who has a positive outlook. The next time you run into a situation that causes you to think or behave negatively, ask yourself what this person would do. How would they react? And try to think this way too.

Give Others Positive Feedback

The author suggests that even if you see someone doing something poorly, chances are there is something good you can say rather than only focusing on the negative.

Give Yourself Positive Feedback

Have you ever discounted your own efforts? Saying things like “anyone could do this” or “I’m just lucky”. The author suggests that by doing this, we’re allowing pessimistic attitudes to rule given that we don’t expect good things to happen to us.

Identify the Purpose of Your Pessimism

Do you ever use pessimism as a form of protection? Do you use it to help protect you from being hurt or disappointed?

Take the Risk of Being Positive and See How You Feel

Just try being positive and see how it makes you feel.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Chances are it took you years to be pessimistic so you probably won’t become optimistic overnight. But if you practice, it will become easier with time and focus.

So, there you go. Even if you’re not naturally an optimistic person, it seems that there are some things you can do to shift your attitude. And along with possibly increasing your lifespan, you might even enjoy life a little more too.

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Susan Williams is the Founder of Booming Encore. Being a Boomer herself, Susan loves to discover and share ways to live life to the fullest. She shares her experiences, observations and opinions on living life after 50 and tries to embrace Booming Encore's philosophy of making sure every day matters.