How Positive Thinking Improves Health
One of the things that many people ask me is how I remain so positive. Now don’t get me wrong, I definitely have my moments of spiraling negative thoughts, but overall I do my best to trust the universe and everything that comes my way. After years of practice, I’ve learned to almost always spin the so-called "bad moments" into positive learning experiences. It’s definitely not an easy task, but it continues to amaze me how maintaining this mindset, even in the most challenging moments, has kept me healthy, strong and moving forward with a smile no matter what.
When I decided to write about this topic, I was delighted to find that research was being done in this area all over the world. Although no one can pinpoint why, a positive or optimistic outlook on life is believed to ward off colds and other viruses, increase life span, improve psychological and physical wellbeing, and even help tackle more serious diseases. Although there are many genetic, biological and environmental influences that impact how one person responds to illness versus another, there are many theories linking cellular and hormonal response in positive individuals to better health and overall disease reaction.
So what can one do to remain positive? For me, the best thing you can do is to try to surround yourself with positive people. This doesn’t mean that you should give up on those who choose to remain pessimistic. I’ve often found that by being positive myself, others start to follow suit which is always fun to witness. Another great practice is to read books that nourish your inner-self and help you focus on the bigger picture rather than getting caught up in the circumstances of the moment. There are many books with daily quotes or reflections that can help you begin your day on a positive foot.
It’s also valuable to begin noticing when negative thoughts come into your mind and to start to find ways to redirect them to something positive. In previous posts, I’ve talked about the importance of being grateful and how spending just a few minutes a day remembering what you’re thankful for can be tremendously beneficial to your experience of life. As they teach us in meditation, don’t make your negative thoughts wrong, just become aware of them and notice how quickly the simple act of "catching" them makes it easier to let them drift away.
Of course positive thinking along with a healthy diet and exercise plan will increase your chances of good health and overcoming disease even more so. However don’t underestimate the important role of your thoughts in conquering both physical and emotional imbalances. If all else fails, fake it until you make it. The result will be less stress and a more enjoyable life regardless of the challenges you face, which will help you make the best of the life journey you’re on no matter where it takes you.
Kara wrote for HealthCentral as a patient expert for Food & Nutrition.