A recent study published in the journal Circulation found that a sunnier outlook on life is associated with lower risk of heart disease and mortality. The research, which tracked more than 97,000 women over the age of fifty for eight years, found that optimists were nine percent less likely to develop heart disease and 14 percent less likely to die from any cause than their pessimistic counterparts. Those with a high degree of ‘cynical hostility’ were 16 percent more likely than all others to die during that same period. So, is your glass half-full or half-empty?
If you are not sure where you stand on the optimist/pessimist continuum, take the two week challenge and find out. For the next two weeks, jot down your thoughts and opinions and keep track of the number of positive verses negative feelings. Once you have your data, you can determine where you fit in. If you are like the majority of us, you will be amazed by how negative your thoughts and feelings are. Turning this around is going to take some conscious thought and a willingness to move closer to the optimist end of the scale.
Techniques for moving towards the sunnier side of the spectrum include sleeping more, making time for family and friends, and increasing your relaxation time by practicing meditation or yoga. Inserting these three practices into your lifestyle can make a huge difference. When we are well rested, we are better equipped to deal with stress and to stay focused on the positives. Keeping a gratitude journal can also be way to remind you of your daily blessings. In addition, surrounding yourself with upbeat, happy people can really help your mood. By taking time to reflect and revisit your goals and objectives, you will increase your ability to meet them and stay on track for better health both mentally and physically.