We tend to think that our health is all about what we eat, how much exercise we get, and how good our genetics are. Though all of those things do matter, there is also another aspect of our health that can easily get overlooked. One thing in our lives that can have a huge affect on not just the quality of our lives but also the healthiness is our attitudes. We can eat the right things, go to the gym three times a week, have the most robust parents and grandparents, and still succumb to a devastating disease, or chronic pain.
There is an old proverb that says, “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” Studies have shown that there is more truth to this than we might have imagined. Duke University asked 3,000 heart patients to rate their own health. The choices were “poor,” “fair,” “good,” and “very good.” For those who choose “very good” the study provided evidence that their survival rate was three times that of the patients who said their health was “poor.” Several studies have suggested that a person’s attitude can make the difference between life and death.
There is a mind-body connection. Our bodies are wonderful things. We have a variety of body functions that keep attacks at bay, as well as a defense system that fights anything that isn’t supposed to be in our bodies. Recent studies conclude that prolonged stress and constant negative thinking can compromise our immune systems. What we think about life, our health, and our future can and does affect how our body fights and defends itself. The results of these studies show us that a healthy outlook can actually stimulate those defenses.
Is your glass half empty, or half full? Positive thinking, especially how we see and talk about ourselves is directly linked to effective stress management. If chronic stress weakens our immune system, then reducing that stress is paramount. Positive thinking isn’t an ostrich reaction of burying your head and ignoring the problems around you.
It is recognizing things may be rough, but expecting them to get better. Instead of thinking and saying you have made a mistake that has ruined your life, you can say, “I can learn from this,” we all go through the same hard things, we can come out on the other side either better or bitter. How we think of others is just as important. When we encourage others, we are encouraged. It’s a domino effect.
Here are a few findings from the Mayo Clinic on how thinking positive can affect our health and well-being. Being optimistic can help keep us from catching the common cold, give us improved physical and psychological well-being as well as help us cope during hard times or stressful situations. Our cardiovascular health improves and we are at a lower risk for heart disease. We live longer with lower rates of depression. Our whole quality of life improves.
Apart from all of those wonderful health benefits, our attitudes, good ones, make us more pleasant to be around. Our friends and family will enjoy our company. Spending time with loved ones during a hard time, while keeping a good attitude, will enrich and quite possibly prolong our lives. When our attitudes are good we work with more confidence, we expect our futures to be bright, and we brighten the days of others around us. What we think, speak, and how we behave can change our lives. Another saying that applies to our thinking is, “Greater attitudes bring greater altitudes.” Do you want your life to improve, health and wellbeing? Change your attitude.