Prolonging Life through Optimism?

“It is definitely the case that certain people who are psychologically healthier live longer,” says Dr. Howard S. Friedman of the University of California at Riverside, a psychologist who has studied personality traits that correlate with longevity. “But the explanations are usually complicated.”

One theory is that optimists are more likely to seek medical help because they view health problems as temporary and treatable. Pessimists, on the other hand, often don’t seek help because they typically fear the worst.

Whatever the explanation, there is a growing body of evidence that optimism, natural or “learned,” significantly enhances quality of life.

In one study of personality and longevity, those who viewed aging as a positive experience lived, on average, 7.5 years longer than those who took a darker view. That is a benefit far greater, the researchers point out, than what can be gained by lowering your blood pressure or reducing your cholesterol, measures shown to lengthen life about four years. It also beats exercise, not smoking and maintaining a healthy weight, strategies that add one to three years to our life spans.

What does this mean for you and me? You attract more of what you focus on and focusing on the negative is not only bad for your disposition, it is also bad for your health! It means that striving to leverage the Law of Attraction is far from being a frivolous, “feel good” activity. It could add years to your life.

Optimism is about making good choices. When faced with a situation, do you choose to look at what could go wrong or at what could go right? Do you naturally give people the benefit of the doubt or are you certain they deliberately do things to annoy you? (One of my favorite bumper stickers proclaims, “Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they AREN’T out to get you!”)

Given the research indicating that optimism is even better for you than exercise, imagine what long-term gains you could make by simply focusing on making better choices. Here are some ideas:

· Devote the first 30 minutes of your day to curling up in your favorite chair with a cup of coffee or tea and focusing on the things in your life that make you feel happy or hopeful.

· Bask in the feeling of your morning shower or bath. This doesn’t take any more time, it simply takes focus.

· On the way to work, listen to happy music or inspirational tapes. Or notice and enjoy the weather.

· On the way to your office, take time to greet co-workers with a smile.

· While at work, enjoy the feeling of being good at something, however large or small.

· Choose to watch Ellen instead of. Jerry Springer.

· Watch a movie with a happy ending rather than one in which people are butchered.

· Watch a sit-com or comedy show before going to bed instead of the 11:00 NEWS.

· When you get into bed, enjoy the feeling of the clean sheets and the soft pillow under you.

· Argue with the negative voice inside your head. Just because you think it doesn’t mean it’s the truth! Remember, as a child you believed the boogie man was in your closet.

Finally, memorize this mantra and shout it to yourself and the world:

“I’m glad as hell and I’m not gonna fake it anymore!!!”

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