Aging With Attitude – Health Benefits of a Positive Attitude

 

Have you ever met a young person who seemed to be older than their age? I’m not referring to an innate wisdom when an old soul seems to reside in a young body. I’m referring to pessimism. The glass half-empty personality type. They seem to be much older than they actually are. By contrast, have you met an older person who had a youthful vitality about them? They are optimistic, easygoing and full of laughter. They are ageless somehow and often tend to live healthier and more vital lives. I’m thinking that the key to aging is attitude…and the health benefits of a positive attitude.

“The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being

can alter his life by altering his attitudes” – William James

 

 

Attitude is one of the first things that I notice about people. I love to be around people who are positive and upbeat. I think it’s an attractive quality to possess. They have a youthfulness, an intangible quality that shines through them. Some people come by their positive dispositions naturally, but for those who tend to be a bit more pessimistic, there are ways to help you to see your glass as half-full.

Positive Psychology – What is it?

Much of how you age is in your attitude and outlook on life. People who approach aging with a positive attitude have been proven to suffer from fewer age related issues. Is it mind over matter? If I think, therefore I am? One of the newest branches in psychology is called Positve Psychology. It focuses on how to assist people to live happier, healthier, and more fortunate lives. It’s the complimentary science to the more mainstream psychology that studies dysfunction, mental illness, and other issues.

Positive psychology looks at our psychic strengths and how to build upon them rather than our flaws and how to fix them. Since many of us can now expect to live 20 to 30 years after retiring, there is an increasing interest in positive aging and its intention to assist people with feeling fulfilled, purposeful and active as we begin to approach our twilight years.

 

Why having a Positive Attitude is Important

There have been many studies over the years that have shown that there are health benefits of a positive attitude and that it can influence how long you will live. Our bodies react physiologically to our emotions, which in turn stem from our thoughts, beliefs, attitudes, and ideas. If what we feed our emotions is constantly negative, there is an increased risk of physical and mental health problems.

One of the biggest risks to our health, is having to deal with too much stress. We all know that stress is a killer, but did you know that reducing it can add up to 7.5 years to your life? Conditions like obesity, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, gastrointestinal issues, diabetes, and accelerated aging can be attributed to stress. Therefore, the health benefits of having a positive attitude should not be ignored.

Of course, there are some circumstances in life that are beyond our control, but we can control how we react to them. Although it can be difficult to be positive when you are feeling the pressure, ironically, it’s being positive that will help you to cope with the tension. While a small amount of stress is actually good for the natural production of hormones like cortisol and epinephrine (adrenaline), our fight or flight hormones, an abundance of stress can make you seriously ill. Sometimes, it may be easier said than done, but trying to be in the moment and being mindful of your thoughts and behaviors during stressful times can be very helpful in warding off more serious health consequences.

 

How to Age Positively

  • Adopt a healthy lifestyle – by now you are probably tired of hearing about this, but I can’t stress it enough (no pun intended). Eat healthily, exercise, get adequate sleep, stop smoking, and reduce alcohol intake.
  • Become a lifelong learner – engage and challenge your brain. An active and challenged brain can defend against dementia. So, for the sake of keeping your wits about you when you are old, consider taking a course, reading up on some new topics, keeping up on the news, solving logic puzzles, and trying something for the first time. Just be sure that it is something that you enjoy.
  • Be Social – we humans are social creatures. Many of us need a little alone time on occasion, but ultimately, we require positive interaction with other people in order to flourish mentally and emotionally.
  • Get Physically Active – once again, I can’t stress this enough. We are hunter gatherers; active by design. We often carry stress in our muscles, so moving and stretching will help to release some of that pent-up tension. Check out my article on Motivation if you need a little nudge.
  • Put it into Perspective – don’t be a drama queen and quit sweating the small stuff. Often we let little irritations build up, adding to our stress levels. Try to be rational and don’t let your emotions run amuck with your blood pressure. Get rid of unnecessary matters that may be causing you stress, de-clutter and simplify your life.
  • Celebrate your Accomplishments – give yourself a pat on the back for your achievements, including the small ones. It’s a powerful positivity boost.
  • Don’t be afraid to say No – Yep, no is a negative, but knowing when enough is enough, is a positive thing.
Some Final Positivity Tidbits…     
  • Smile
  • Don’t focus on the (age) number
  • Surround yourself with positive people
  • Refuse to grow up – reacquaint yourself with the things that brought you joy when you were younger

Our Thoughts are what Define Us

Thoughts are the root of everything that we do, say, and feel. If we allow negativity to rule of lives, then we create for ourselves an existence that is rife with doubt and wariness. In essence, we cripple ourselves physically and emotionally. Push negative attitudes aside and focus on finding the proverbial silver lining. Let positive thoughts lead you to a youthful vitality. Be thankful for all that is good in your life. Put on your rose-coloured glasses and drink from a half-full glass of gratitude.

Be the best version of you.

Sonya

If you enjoyed this post and would like to provide some feedback, comments are welcome and appreciated.

 

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10 thoughts on “Aging With Attitude – Health Benefits of a Positive Attitude

  1. Thanks for sharing!
    I couldn’t agree more – attitude (our thoughts, our feelings and our actions) is everything. I really appreciate how you included gratitude in your post. If you focus on being sincerely grateful for that which you have and for that which is on its way to you, and do so consistently, it can have a powerful effect on your developing a more positive attitude in general. And thanks for reminding me of the mind- body connection in maintaining good health….particularly important to this 51 year old!

    All the best,

    Norman

    1. well, let me say say that I am grateful for your comment, Norman. You are right – consistency is key to changing your mindset so that being positive becomes as natural as breathing.

      All the best to you also.

      Sonya

  2. I’ve heard about this in the past that how you feel can have an influence on your health. Of course it is one thing to say it, but another thing to actually do it.

    So it’s great that you did some research and gave a lot of great tips on how one can stay positive. I will definitely bookmark this page for when I need to be reminded!

    1. Yes, please do.  

      It’s true that it’s one thing to say, but another to actually do.  As the old adage goes, actions are louder than words.  I only hope that my words have spurred some action. 

      Thanks for your comment, Jurgen.  

  3. As a young twenty-something, and even a teenager, when something ‘big’ went wrong in my life it was immediately the rest of the worlds fault – family friends you name it. Over the last decade I have learned that a simple positive outlook is the most powerful weapon you can have in the direction of your life – especially in career and business. 

    I loved reading through your article because it reminded me about how unreasonable I used to be – a defeatist almost immediately. 

    Have you ever had similar experiences to this in your life’s journey?

    1. Oh yes.  Most definitely.  And, like you, I was more that way when I was younger.  Obviously, at some point you made a decision to be more positive and you gave yourself a great gift.  

      Of course, there are days when it feels as though life is ripping strips off of us and it’s difficult to be positive about things at times like that. But, it’s not about being positive in every single moment.  It’s, like you say, important to have a simple positive outlook.  An general positive outlook that helps you ride the bumps along the way.  

  4. Hi Sonya,

    Thanks so much for sharing. At times when I have found myself wallowing in self-pity and negative thoughts, and made the decision to think with gratitude upon some aspect of my life, be it my kids, the blue sky, the delicious coffee I’m drinking…and to praise it /them, it never fails to shift how I feel…and the day gets back on-track. It’s a powerful ability we all have, but which, unfortunately, many of us fail to use often enough – this includes yours truly.

    Thanks!

    Norman

    1. Hi Norman;

      Congratulations on being mindful of all you have to be grateful for.  It is a powerful ability and I’m happy that you mentioned that because many of us need to learn to tap into that ability when we’re feeling despondent.

      Here’s to you continuing to see your glass half-full.

      Sonya

  5. This is an great article Sonya. Positive attitude is crucial for health and long life. What is also important is to change our ordinary lifestyle. Regular exercising and proper nutrition are also very important for us if we want to stay in positive attitude. I have an uncle that certainly would like to read this.

    1. Hi Daniel; I agree with you that exercise and nutrition are important.  It takes an overall positive outlook to maintain the belief and encouragement to continue with that healthy lifestyle.  I see many people who are gung ho to start eating properly and exercising regularly, but as soon as there is a set back,  negativity sets in and they give up.  

      I hope that you do share this article with your uncle and that he finds it interesting.  Thanks for your comment, Daniel.

      Wishing you all the best.

      Sonya

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