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