Could How You Think Affect Your Health?
When most people think of things that affect their physical health, they think of things like their genetics, eating right, exercising, good hygiene and their overall health habits. Of course these are important, but very few people realize that there is another major factor missing in this list – the way we think. Studies support that thinking optimistically can improve our immune system, lower our blood pressure, improve our heart health, improve our recovery rates after surgery and improve our cancer survival rates. Evidence suggests optimists even live longer.
Most of the time, we don’t even pay any attention to our thoughts. Yet they create our reality and our beliefs and affect our health. According to Martin Seligman, the father of Positive Psychology, one of the most significant findings in psychology in the past 20 years is that we can choose the way we think.
So how can we change the way we think about the way we think? Shifting our thoughts takes time and different strategies work differently for each of us. One of the first steps is to tune in and pay attention to how you think now. If you feel helpless, that nothing you do matters; if you imagine the worst and blame yourself when things go wrong, you are probably more pessimistic. If you see bad things as challenges to overcome, as temporary, as not your fault, you are likely more of an optimist. When you notice pessimistic thought patterns, remind yourself that you have the power to choose what you focus on. What can you learn from this situation? How can you grow from it?
You can also check out some of my other tips for improving a positive and optimistic mindset.
Tina Hallis, Ph.D., is a professional speaker and consultant for The Positive Edge, a company dedicated to helping people and organizations fulfill their true potential using strategies from the science of Positive Psychology.