Optimists are more likely to live longer than those who have a more negative approach to life, the BBC reported in August this year. The findings were taken from a US study and the results showed that on average, the most optimistic men and women had an 11 – 15% longer lifespan and were significantly more likely to live to 85 years old compared with the least optimistic group. Evidence from other studies suggests that more optimistic people tend to have goals and the confidence to reach them. They are more effective at problem solving and regulate their emotions better during stressful situations.As stress is known to impact on our immune systems then optimists are more able to fight of infections.
So, is your glass half empty or half full? Studies show that personality traits such as optimism and pessimism can affect many areas of your wellbeing. Being positive is a key part to effective stress management and in turn this has a positive effect on physical and emotional health. But if you view the world as difficult and react negatively to the everyday hassles and obstacles then this impacts on your mood. A positive mind anticipates that despite obstacles and difficulties you can still achieve health, happiness and success if you are willing to work at it.
You can learn positive thinking skills and one of the ways we recommend is just before you go to sleep at night think of three positive things that have happened that day, it may be as simple as ‘I got through the day without shouting at someone!’ If you really struggle to find positive things then you could think of three things you are grateful for. This has a positive effect on our subconscious whilst we sleep.
Self-talk is our internal dialogue and depending on our personality can be predominately negative or positive. We all have those times when we berate ourselves for something that has happened or go over a situation looking at the things we did wrong or should have done differently. Some of the other common negative thinking types are blaming yourselves for everything, focusing on the negative aspects of any situation, expecting the worst to happen and seeing the world as black or white with no middle ground for processing.
Positive self-talk is an effective management tool and can enhance performance and wellbeing. Research also suggests that people with positive self-talk may have mental skills that allow them to solve problems, think differently and be more efficient at coping with hardships and challenges.
Positive self-talk also needs practise especially if positive thoughts don’t come naturally to you and like any new habit needs time and practise. Try to surround yourself with positive people, we can absorb the emotions and feelings of the people around us therefore if we spend a lot of time with negative people this can influence our thoughts. Positive affirmations via images or words help to direct our thoughts in a good way.
Recognising when you have done something well, it may be a piece of work or how you look and giving yourself a pat on the back. Allow yourself to receive complements, don’t push them away, say thank you and except them. Complement others, saying positive things to another person also nourishes your own positivity, if you think someone did good tell them.
One possible mantra which may help:
“Be Mindful, Be Grateful, Be Positive, Be True, Be Kind”