I’m sure you have that person in your life whose endless positivity can be draining. Sometimes it’s like, “Come on, enough already. Open your eyes and look around.” But, they actually might be on to something with this positive thinking, especially when it comes to health and longevity.
Positive Thinking Could Lead to Longer Life
There is growing evidence that indicates the power of the mind over the body. Your outlook and mental state influence your health, and there are data supporting indisputable links between positive thinking and health benefits. These benefits include lower blood pressure, less risk for heart disease, better weight control, and healthier levels of blood sugar. And even when you’re faced with incurable conditions, a more upbeat outlook and positive feelings can improve your quality of life.
8 Skills to Increase Quality of Life
A recent randomized study conducted on HIV patients at the University of California, San Francisco, is showing similar results. This research has paved the way for Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago to develop a strategy of eight skills that people can learn, to cultivate positive outlooks and emotions. They found that if patients can incorporate three of these skills, they can substantially increase their quality of life, potentially add to longevity, and possibly experience health improvements.
Those eight skills are:
- Recognizing a positive event each day
- Savoring that event and either logging it in a journal, or telling someone about it
- Starting a daily gratitude journal
- Listing a personal strength and how you use it
- Setting an attainable goal and tracking progress
- Reporting relatively minor stresses, and listing ways to reappraise the event in a positive light
- Recognizing and practicing small acts of kindness each day
- Practicing mindfulness and focusing on the present instead of the past and future; being in the here and now
Regardless of your current health, the research suggests a positive outlook can help you make it through, enjoy life, and perhaps even live longer. When used as a part of regular treatment, the strategies above could be the secret weapon to staring illness in the face, and walking away with a victory.
Brody, J., “A Positive Outlook May Be Good for Your Health,” The New York Times, March 27, 2017; https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/27/well/live/positive-thinking-may-improve-health-and-extend-life.html?, last accessed March 28, 2017.