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Optimism and Your Health

Optimism has received attention in recent years, with research attesting to its significant health benefits. One study showed that optimistic people are more likely to live past 85 years old, or 15% longer than non-optimistic people. That makes pessimism as a life orientation nearly as harmful as poorly managed type 2 diabetes! Fortunately, optimism can be understood, learned, practiced, and acquired as a naturally reactive way of viewing the world.

You may have an awareness of how optimistic you are (or are not) from feedback you have periodically received from others. Viewing the need to be more optimistic as a health issue can inspire you to take the next steps to improve your disposition. The key is practicing a few exercises that will shift and slowly reinforce behavior change with their results. For example, experiment with a "coincidence journal." Unlike a diary or the daily recording of positive affirmations, a coincidence journal is a highly proactive approach to maintaining awareness and spotting positive events and pleasing interactions as they occur. In a way a diary can’t (although diaries can be helpful, too), this trains your brain to think ahead, spot, and eventually expect daily life experiences that are affirming.

You can find more ideas for retraining your thought patterns to reflect more optimism through hundreds of books and resources online. There is more to discover about the impact of optimism, but scientists think being optimistic may be accompanied by more goal-setting behaviors, staying on top of one’s health needs, and proactive communication skills that reduce stress and conflict. They’re not sure, but with experimentation, you may discover optimism’s fortunes in your own life.

Source: [search: "optimism live longer"]

UR Medicine EAP is brought to you by Well-U, helping eligible individuals to assess issues, and provide short-term counseling and referrals.

Keith Stein | 4/9/2020

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