At a time when stress and depression are at a high, it’s more important than ever to be optimistic and practice positivity. Remaining positive in the face of adversity can help people to be more resilient physically and mentally, and ultimately healthier in the long run than those who do not.
Studies have shown that optimism can affect many areas of your health and well-being. In fact, many people who are optimistic simply make healthier choices. A study of more than 7,000 adults found that those with a positive attitude were 47% more likely to consume fresh fruits and vegetables, and were 33% more likely to be physically active, with 10 or more hours of physical activity per week.
A positive attitude can also help:
- Increase your life span
- Lower rates of depression
- Increase resistance to the common cold
- Lead to higher levels of “good” cholesterol (high-density lipoprotein) and lower levels of triglycerides
- Lower stroke risk
- Establish better psychological and physical well-being
- Produce better cardiovascular health
- Establish coping skills with stress and hardships
How to Be More Positive
While having a positive outlook doesn’t always come naturally, it can be trained just like a muscle. The more positive you are, the more you’ll see positivity around you, resulting in a beneficial cycle of positivity.
Smile and Laugh. One easy way to become more positive and happy is to simply smile more. Genuine, vocal laughter boosts energy use and heart rate by 10% to 20%. That means a 10- to 15-minute belly laugh can burn anywhere from 10 to 40 calories. That’s a lot of laughter, but hey, who doesn’t love to laugh!
Participate in activities that bring you joy. Figure out what your triggers are for joy, love, and excitement, and then actively seek out those things. It could be something as simple as playing a song that you like to dance to, taking a walk with the dog around the neighborhood, or curling up in front of the fireplace with a book. Whatever it is, no matter how small, find the time in your day to enjoy it!
Practice reframing. When you practice reframing, you look for opportunity instead of focusing on the loss. So rather than stressing about a traffic jam, you appreciate the fact that you can have your own car and get to spend a few extra minutes listening to music or a podcast. You accept that there is nothing you can do about the traffic.
Show gratitude. Thinking about what you’re grateful for can instantly improve your mood, and as you begin to make gratitude a habit, you’ll see lasting benefits. An easy way to involve the whole family in becoming more positive is to reflect on three positive things that happened throughout your day. Be specific about exactly what it was and how it made you feel. A great time to do this is at the end of the day during dinner or before going to bed.