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Don’t Stop Believing: The Power of Positive Thinking

Author: Karen Tickner, ACE MES, PMA-CPT

Believe it or not, being happy is good for your health and can actually help you live longer! A recent study from Johns Hopkins Medicine suggests that people who have risk factors of heart disease AND a positive outlook on life have less of a chance of having a heart attack than their negative counterparts. It seems that happy people are less stressed and have less inflammation than people who see the world a little more negatively, and that could lead them to having less heart attacks or other coronary issues. In short, being happy can extend your life! Who knew??

In that case, how do you bring positivity into your life? Is it as easy as putting on a smile and carrying on through your day? Maybe. However, having a positive outlook on life is far more than the fluffy, superficial warm and fuzzies. In fact, there’s a whole science behind personal positivity, and it’s called Positive Psychology. It’s the study of happiness, flourishing, and what makes life worth living. Its focus is on the deep, meaningful, lifelong sources of happiness. It digs deep into what makes a person feel fulfilled in their lives. While it doesn’t mean that people push aside the negative emotions to be happy, it works to create pathways to accept and reframe negative experiences and emotions so that one can flourish without barriers in their life.

Alrighty then, sign me up! Well, creating a positive outlook for yourself isn’t always easy, especially if you are someone who finds yourself leaning into the negative side of things sometimes. According to the experts of Positive Psychology, here are some easy exercises that will help bring your outlook to more of the bright side of things, permanently!

1. Practice an Attitude of Gratitude

Before you go to bed at night, reflect on your day, and write down 3-5 things that you are grateful for. Try to find new things every night, and you’ll find that you’ll start being grateful for the little things, like your coffee in the morning or that your internet worked all day. Reminding yourself daily of what you have, instead of what you don’t, will bring your mind into the present, uplift your spirits, and create a general feeling of gratitude for everything that you are blessed to have in your life!

2. Meditate

Meditation can seem daunting to some, but it’s easier than what it seems. Giving yourself 10 minutes, 5 minutes, or even 2 minutes a day to pause, breathe, and observe your thoughts provides you the opportunity to find negative thoughts or triggers and start consciously reframing them into a positive light.

3. Pay It Forward

Have you ever heard the saying, “You get what you give?” Being kind and doing something for someone can go a long way and leave you feeling happy and fulfilled. Doing something simple like holding a door open for someone, helping someone complete a task at work, or simply giving someone a compliment can boost happiness for you and for the person that you helped. Your positive gesture can set your personal tone for the day and help you feel more gratified in life.

4. Surround Yourself with Positive People

Energy and emotions are contagious. Surround yourself with people that inspire, empower, and motivate you, and you will find that within yourself.

5. Do Something You Love

What you do doesn’t really matter as long as you love it. It could be anything like cooking, or reading, or exercising. As long as you can set aside an hour a day to pursue what you love doing, you’re likely to find lifelong joy, happiness, and fulfillment.

Of course, some of these steps are a little easier to reach than others, but, at the end of the day, any steps you take towards living with a positive outlook will promote lasting happiness and a longer life!