Thinking positively isn't just good for your state of mind, it can be great for your physical and mental health as well! It has been shown that people who see the glass half full, predict lower rates of mortality and cancer, and better cardiovascular health and immune function. This is especially true for low income countries. Some psychologists believe that optimists tend to be healthier because they are better able to deal when they can't achieve their goals. They attribute less significance to stressful events. Want even more good news? There also seems to be a link between optimism and better jobs. AND, optimists are more likely to land a stable and secure, loving relationship. Having said all that, it is still easier said than done. Some psychologists believe we are born as optimists (or not) while others believe it is socially learned but we cannot forgot the importance socioeconomic standing and cultural background have on our ability to look on the bright side. It has been suggested the Western cultures anticipate more positive occurrences than those in Eastern cultures, for example. But don't forget that it is possible to be too positive. Being overly optimistic can lead to a series of failed expectations. The middle ground of defensive pessimism may be the best route. You can hope for the best but still prepare for the worst. In any case, here are some quick tips, compiled by Greatist, to start seeing things in a brighter light:
- Find the good. Even in less-than-great situations, there's a way to find something positive. It may be hard to see at first, but try looking closer! (For instance: "I may be completely lost, but the view from here sure is pretty.")
- Write it down. At the end of the day, write down a few good things that happened, like finishing a big report at work or getting an email from an old friend. The habit makes it easier to appreciate the positive parts of life.
- Speak with success. Sometimes it's not the specific situation that determines a good or bad mood, but how we talk about it. (For example: "The exam may have been super hard, but telling friends we tried our best may cheer us up.")
- Forget the green-eyed monster. It's easy to compare ourselves to others and become envious of what you don't have. Instead, try to appreciate the good qualities and remember what you're grateful for.
- Take control: Science has shown people feel more optimistic about situations they can control. So take a seat behind the driver's wheel and remember choices like working out more and eating healthfully are (almost always) yours!
- Smile! Grin at this: In one study, participants who held a pen in their mouth (causing them to use their smiling muscles) perceived cartoons to be funnier than those without the pen. So not only are smiles contagious, they may actually make situations seem better.
- Stay balanced. Life isn't all good, all the time, so don't worry if those positive thoughts don’t flow freely. Staying realistic is also important to help manage anxiety and boost productivity.