There were seven American Heart Association (AHA) metrics used to classify the participants’ heart health. These included blood pressure, body mass index, fasting plasma glucose and serum cholesterol levels, dietary intake, physical activity and tobacco use. Using these metrics, researches gave participants a score of 0 (poor), 1 (intermediate) or 2 (ideal) for each of the seven health metrics. The participants’ health scores could range from 0 (poor) to 14 (great) points.
Analysis of the data concluded optimistic survey participants had better cardiovascular health. Those who were optimistic has a 50% greater chance of having a health score in the intermediate range than their pessimistic counterparts. They also had a 76% better chance of having a score in the ideal range. The data also showed those who were optimists were more physically active, had a healthier body mass index, had better levels of blood sugars, and better total levels of cholesterol.
This benefit of optimism didn’t waver due to socio-demographic characteristics that could potentially skew the data. Even when factors such as age, education, ethnicity and income were controlled, optimistic participants were two times as likely to have ideal cardiovascular health.
The good news is that you aren’t born an optimistic or pessimistic person. There are steps you can take to be more positive in your life. According to the Mayo Clinic being positive has the benefits of:
- A longer lifespan
- Less depression
- Less life distress
- More resistance to viruses, such as the common cold
- Overall, better psychological and physical well-being
- Less cardiovascular disease
- Better stress coping skills
There are also steps you can take to make yourself a more positive person. One important step you can take is to learn to turn negative thinking into positive thinking. While the steps to do this are pretty simple and straightforward, it takes time and practice to create a new habit, so results won’t be instantaneous. Here are some of the steps you’ll need to take to become more positive.
Identify areas in your life that need to change
If you want to be more optimistic yourself, you need to be more positive in the way you think. Take some time to identify areas of your life where you think pessimistically rather than optimistically. This can be any part of your life from attitudes about yourself to work. Once you have identified an area where you have a pessimistic view, work on taking small steps to frame the situation in a more positive way.
Begin Daily Checks
During the day, take the time to evaluate how you’re thinking about and reacting to things happening around you. When you catch yourself framing things negatively, make an attempt to figure out a way to frame them in a more positive way.
Open yourself to finding humor in the things around you. It’s good to smile or laugh even when you find yourself in a difficult or stressful situation. Look for the humor in the small, everyday happenings, and expand that to other areas of your life. The more you’re able to laugh at life, the less pessimistic things seem.
The healthier you are, the less stress you will have in many areas of your life. Being healthy and having strength can be a vital component in seeing things positively rather than negatively. Choose to live a healthy lifestyle with regular exercise, good eating habits and ways to reduce stress. Choosing to live healthier can have a huge impact on the way you view many of the things around you.
Evaluate Your Friend
While you take a look at yourself, also look at those you surround you. It’s difficult to remain positive if all the people in your life are negative. Choosing friends who have an optimistic outlook on life can reinforce the optimism you want to have, and give you positive feedback on your quest to be more optimistic.
Treat Yourself with Respect
Learn to treat yourself the way you would treat others that you highly respect. If you wouldn’t make a mean or negative comment to the person you respect most, you shouldn’t make that same comment about yourself. When you have negative thoughts (and you will), instead of accepting it as truth, take the time to evaluate it and find the positive within it.
Making these changes will take time and effort on your part, but the more you do them, the easier they become. Once you have turned them into habits and the default way you think about situations in your life, you’ll see that the pessimistic views you held before were simply a way you chose to look at the world.
(Photo courtesy of fauxto_digit)