Positive thinking boosts health

Dr. Oz recently coauthored an article about the power of positive thinking to improve health.  A study published in 2013 demonstrated that heart disease patients in a Danish hospital who had positive mental outlooks were 58 percent more likely to live five years than those who had negative outlooks.  An interesting fact was that the patients with positive outlooks also exercised.  It is unclear whether they were happier because they exercised (as exercise increases serotonin) or if their optimism made them more likely to exercise.  What is clear is that exercise and positive thinking are vital for a healthy life.

Ways to cultivate positive thinking

  1. Write down five things you are grateful for every day
  2. Look for the good in every situation.  Ask yourself what you can learn from difficulties or big challenges and think about how strong you are becoming by going through tough times.
  3. Write thank you notes.  Set aside 30 minutes to do this every week.  Studies show that over time a regular habit such as this boosts your overall feeling of wellbeing.
  4. Volunteer to help someone else.  Watch a friend's kids, bring in an elderly neighbor's trash cans, or make a meal for a sick friend.  These acts of kindness will help you feel happier, too.
  5. Replace the word have with get.  I get to exercise.  Notice how much better it sounds than saying I HAVE to exercise.
  6. Use positive words to describe your life.  My life is blessed, full and wonderful.  Sounds much better than crazy, hectic and draining.
  7. Take quiet time every day to pray, breathe deeply or meditate.  This will help cultivate a sense of gratitude and help you feel more hopeful.
  8. Call a positive friend or have coffee together
  9. Exercise for 30 minutes
  10. Get 7 hours or more of sleep.  It's hard to be cheerful when you are sleep-deprived.
Positive thinking may not come naturally.  But, like all skills, it can be practiced daily. And whatever we do day in and day out will add up to something big.  The reward just may be a longer, happier and healthier life.


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