Can Your Attitude Save Your Life?

My friends and family are often shocked at my attitude these days. I have definitely mellowed with time. In my 20’s and early 30’s, I was very pessimistic. I used to say that I was just an intense person, but no matter what I chose to call it, it was unhealthy. As a result of my negative attitude, I was plagued with heart palpitations, panic attacks, headaches, stomach upset, and a whole host of other, unexplainable health problems.

This transition from “gloom and doom” to “bright and cheery” did not happen overnight. I was aware of making the special effort to change my thinking patterns, because I knew that the way I looked at my world was impacting my physical and emotional well-being.

Optimists have more satisfying relationships . People who are negative may repel others. Ever noticed how everyone is drawn to the girl at the office with the bubbly personality? No one wants to hang around with a “downer”. Many studies indicate that people who have strong social connections are less likely to suffer from heart disease, stroke, and Alzheimer’s, and are more likely to live longer.

Positive people suffer less from mental illness . According to Mental Health America, “People with negative thinking patterns and low self-esteem are more likely to develop clinical depression.” Positive attitudes when things are tough can not only stave off depression but can also help you make better decisions during difficult life situations. A positive emotional state can determine how we cope during a crisis.

Optimistic people have overall better health. Research suggests optimists have better immune systems enabling them to fight off colds, flu, and even cancer. This may be due in part to the fact that people who have a positive outlook take better care of themselves by getting enough sleep, eating nutritiously, and exercising. People with positive attitudes are also less likely to participate in harmful, self destructive activities.

Optimists also enjoy quicker recovery periods and longer life expectancies after major events such as heart surgery. Pessimism creates stress which can compromise the healing process.

So do yourself and your health a favor; train your brain to be optimistic. You’ll feel better and enjoy a longer life.

References

Lara Salahi. “Optimism Linked to Improved Survival with Coronary Artery Disease,” ABC News. (March 1, 2011). http://abcnews.go.com/Health/HeartDiseaseNews/coronary-artery-disease-optimism-linked-improved-survival/story?id=13021156

Mental Health America http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/go/live-your-life-well/how-stress-hurts

Mental Health America. “Depression: What you need to know. Clinical Depression is a Common, Real and Treatable Illness,” (2011). http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/go/information/get-info/depression/depression-what-you-need-to-know

Science News. “Optimism Boosts the Immune System,” Science Daily. (March 24, 2010). http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100323121757.htm

Tara Parker-Hope. “What are Friends For? A Longer Life”, The New York Times. (April 20, 2009). http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/21/health/21well.html