Tag Archives: Positive Psychology

5 ways to hold optimism — and reap health benefits – Harvard

As regular readers know, I feel very strongly about positive psychology. I stumbled across it some years ago and it certainly moved my life to a higher plane. You can read more about it at the end of this post. In the meantime, I wanted to share this nice write up from Harvard Health Publications.

A growing body of research indicates that optimism — a sense everything will be OK — is linked to a reduced risk of developing mental or physical health issues as well as to an increased chance of a longer life.

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One of the largest such studies was led by researchers Dr. Kaitlin Hagan and Dr. Eric Kim at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Their team analyzed data from 70,000 women in the Nurses’ Health Study, and found that women who were optimistic had a significantly reduced risk of dying from several major causes of death over an eight-year period, compared with women who were less optimistic. The most optimistic women had a 16% lower risk of dying from cancer; 38% lower risk of dying from heart disease; 39% lower risk of dying from stroke; 38% lower risk of dying from respiratory disease; and 52% lower risk of dying from infection.

Yes, you can acquire optimism.

Even if you consider yourself a pessimist, there’s hope.Dr. Hagan notes that a few simple changes can help people improve your outlook on life. Previous studies have shown that optimism can be instilled by something as simple as having people think about the best possible outcomes in various areas of their lives,” she says. The following may help you see the world through rosier glasses: Continue reading

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Optimism may reduce risk of dying prematurely – Harvard

Having an optimistic outlook on life—a general expectation that good things will happen—may help people live longer, according to a new study from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Based on prospective health data from the Nurses Study in 2004, it found that women who were optimistic had a significantly reduced risk of dying from several major causes of death—including cancer, heart disease, stroke, respiratory disease, and infection—over an eight-year period, compared with women who were less optimistic.

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The study appeared online December 7, 2016 in the American Journal of Epidemiology. Continue reading

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This One Shift Will Change The Way You See Yourself (& Others!)

growth-mindset

Here is another round of fine information on personal growth with a positive mindset.

To read more on positive psychology check out:

Positive Psychology- What’s it all about?

How to harness Positive Psychology for you – Harvard

Practice positive psychology to improve your health

How you can benefit from a positive view on your life – WSJ

Tony

Our Better Health

  • The Challenge: We often assume our abilities and behaviors cannot (or are too hard to) be changed.
  • The Science: You are, indeed, capable of change! It’s all about the way we look at it!
  • The Solution: Cultivating a growth mindset can create positive change and new opportunities in your life!

We are often taught from a young age and through a variety of influences that ability is fixed. Either we’re smart or we’re not.  We’re athletic or we’re not. We’re artistic or we’re not. And certainly, we all differ to some extent in the types of things that seem to come more naturally to us.

Sometimes we’re standing in our own way

The problem is, this way of thinking can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. For example, if a young child does poorly on a math test and thinks “I failed this test because I’m not good at math,” she is…

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5 Ways Hope Improves Your Success

Our Better Health

The Challenge: We all want to find inner peace and perform at our best -how can we do it?
The Science: Hope is a little-known secret to getting ahead and improving well-being! 
The Solution: Implementing a hopeful mindset in life gives you 5 serious advantages!

Psychologists have proposed lots of different vehicles to success over the years. Grit, conscientiousness, self-efficacy, optimism, passion, inspiration, etc. They are all important. One vehicle, however, is particularly undervalued and underappreciated in psychology and society. That’s hope.

Hope often gets a bad rap. For some, it conjures up images of a blissfully naïve chump pushing up against a wall with a big smile. That’s a shame. Cutting-edge science shows that hope, at least as defined by psychologists, matters a lot.

Here are 5 reasons hope gives you a serious advantage:

Hope Gives You Willpower

Why is hope important? Well, life is difficult. There are many…

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Choice Theory: 7 Relationship Habits

 These sound like some good positive observations.

7 Relationship Habits

To read more on positive psychology check out:

Positive psychology – what’s it all about?

How to become a positive thinker

Tony

Our Better Health

Written on July 26, 2011     by Laura in Choice Theory and Reality Therapy

“Once the realization is accepted that even between the closest human beings infinite distances continue, a wonderful living side by side can grow, if they succeed in loving the distance between them which makes it possible for each to see the other whole against the sky.” – Rainer Maria Rilke

As long as we insist on controlling people around us, we will create completely unnecessary suffering in our lives.  Dr. William Glasser, creator of choice theory and reality therapy, explains that people are in control of almost all of their behaviors.  We are all driven by our genes to satisfy our “basic needs”: survival, love & belonging, power, freedom, and fun.  While we all vary in the degree to which these needs are important, what we all have in common is the need for satisfying…

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Positive Psychology – What’s It All About?

Here is a wonderful little animation on Positive Psychology.

It’s only a couple of minutes long but could change your life. The unique element in positive psychology is that it isn’t about what is wrong with you, but what is right with you.

Want to read more posts on Positive Psychology?

How to Harness Positive Psychology – Harvard

What is Positive Psychology?

How You Can Benefit ro a Positive View on Your Life – WSJ

Breaking Down 8 Barriers to Positive Thinking – Infographic

Positive Happy People Suffer Less Pain

Tony

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The Happiness of Being Grateful!

I think the link between gratitude and our own happiness escapes us most of the time.

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Here are some posts on the subject:

Harvard on Positive Psychology

Giving Thanks on Thanksgiving

Can I be Happy?

How Satisfied Are You With Your Life?

Anatomy of an Act of Kindness

Breaking Down 8 Barriers of Positive Thinking – Infographic

Tony

 

Do you want to be Happy?

Of Course you do. Everyone does.

What if I told you I know the answer for being happy, but you need to follow it religiously in order to really be happy. That’s not to say you will never have moments of sadness, it’s life.

I loved reading this article because it truly showed me the meaning of Gratitude. It showed me the meaning of happiness. Being happy, to me, is not only my happiness but the happiness of others too. That is, bringing happiness to people around me.

The trick to being happy is to be grateful for what you have because you are blessed. If you are reading my blog at the moment, you are more blessed than many people because you have the ability to have access to the Internet and a computer and definitely shelter. So, take a moment to be thankful…

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10 Surprisingly Simple Happiness Tips

Lots of good ideas here. I think happiness and good health go hand in hand.

Book Review: The Tao of Winnie the Pooh by Benjamin Hoff (1982)

Here are some posts I have written on the subject:

How Satisfied Are You With Your Life?

Anatomy of an Act of Kindness

How to Reduce Stress – Harvard

8 Barriers to Positive Thinking – Infographic

22 Things Happy People do Differently – Infographic

Tony

Our Better Health

Tell the truth, avoid narcissists, and stay focused on the future.

Dec 29, 2015  Linda Esposito LCSW 

We all want to be happy. Our search leads us to seek advice from mental health professionals, clergy, best-selling authors, and Buddhist monks.

But despite the wealth of available information, two constants remain: One, there is no recipe for happiness. We’re all unique with different biology, childhoods, life experiences, and support systems. Two, happiness is a habit—and that’s good news, because you can choose to be happier.

To make your happiness journey more attainable, here are 10 common themes that researchers have found which lead to happiness.

“Sometimes, you just have to throw away the map. A map is a life someone else already lived. It’s more fun to make your own.” — Cora Carmack

1. Don’t expect happiness to come with a user’s manual.

Tipping Point author Malcolm Gladwell cites the food…

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8 Chores With Unexpected Scientific Health Benefits

I agree with the basic premise here that you will benefit from these chores. Not so sure how scientific it is, but keeping a positive attitude about them is unquestionably good for you – body and soul.

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To read further on Positive Psychology:

Breaking down 8 Barriers to Positive Thinking

How to Harness Positive Psychology for You – Harvard

What is Positive Psychology?

Tony

Our Better Health

Why washing dishes, making your bed, dusting, and other common chores can lower stress, boost happiness, and protect against heart disease. You’ll never look at your To-Do list the same way again.

By Lauren Gelman

Wash dishes: Reduce anxiety

People who cleaned their plates mindfully (they focused on smelling the soap, feeling the water temperature, and touching the dishes) lowered their nervousness levels by 27 percent, found a recent study of 51 people out of Florida State University’s psychology department. People who didn’t take as thoughtful approach to their dish washing did not experience a similar calming benefit.

Dust with a lemon cleaner: Be happier

A citrusy scent is a potent mood booster, according to a 2014 Japanese study. When participants spent as little as ten minutes inhaling yuzu (a super-tart and citrusy Japanese fruit), they saw a significant decrease in their overall mood disturbance, a measure of tension, anxiety…

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Being thankful is what today is all about. I think it is important to remember that gratitude is very much a too two way street. When we express it we get as well as give.

Here is what Harvard had to say about gratitude in an early post on Positive Psychology:

“Express gratitude. Gratitude is a thankful appreciation for what you have — from a roof over your head to good health to people who care about you. When you acknowledge the goodness in your life, you begin to recognize that the source of that goodness lies at least partially outside yourself. In this way, gratitude helps you connect to something larger than your individual experience — whether to other people, nature, or a higher power.”

Enjoy your turkey today.

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Tony

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9 Ways You Can Improve Your Mental Health Today

Simple stuff here. You can make your life better today if you start integrating some of these into your daily doings.

I have written about positive psychology a number of times here:

Harvard on How to Harness Positive Psychology for you

Practice Positive Psychology to Improve Your Health

How You Can Benefit From a Positive View of Life WSJ

POSITIVE PEOPLE SUFFER LESS PAIN

Tony

Our Better Health

Sure, diet and exercise help. But so does opening up to a friend.

Oct 27, 2015     Patricia Harteneck, Ph.D., MBA

Mental health is much more than a diagnosis. It’s your overall psychological well-being—the way you feel about yourself and others as well as your ability to manage your feelings and deal with everyday difficulties. And while taking care of your mental health can mean seeking professional support and treatment, it also means taking steps to improve your emotional health on your own. Making these changes will pay off in all aspects of your life. It can boost your mood, build resilience, and add to your overall enjoyment of life:

Tell yourself something positive.

Research shows that how you think about yourself can have a powerful effect on how you feel. When we perceive our self and our life negatively, we can end up viewing experiences in a way…

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How the 80/20 Rule Can Help Improve Your Health and Life

This is a wonderful organizing principle that you can apply to so many areas of your life.

In terms of your health, I love the idea that you work on getting healthier and get past the superficial idea of losing weight. If you live healthy,  you won’t need to lose weight.

Eat less; move move, live longer.

Autumn Walk

Tony

Our Better Health

Chris Freytag      03/14/2015       National fitness expert, speaker, contributor to Prevention magazine, author of several books and fitness DVDs

Okay, short history lesson – don’t let your eyes glaze over. Have you heard of the 80/20 rule? It’s also called the law of the vital few and was originally called The Pareto Principle. It started way back in the early 1900s when Vilfredo Pareto discovered that 80 percent of the land in Italy was owned by 20 percent of the people. Am I making you feel like you are back in school? Stay with me!

Soon people saw how this rule played out in business. More often than not, 20 percent of your customers lead to most, or 80 percent, of your sales. Today the 80/20 rule has all sorts of cool interpretations.

To use the 80/20 rule for business, you focus on the 20 percent…

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Do You Fall for the ‘Nocebo Effect’? 5 Ways to Stay Positive for Better Health

If we’re lucky, we learn something every day. Today I learned about the ‘nocebo effect.’

Regular readers know I am a big fan of positivity. To read further, check out

7 Exercises That Train Your Brain to Stay Positive

How to Harness Positive Psychology for You – Harvard

Positive, Happy People Suffer Less Pain

What is Positive Psychology?

pills

Tony

Our Better Health

Scientific studies confirm that a placebo (a dummy medication or procedure) can genuinely benefit a person’s health. But its sinister cousin, the “nocebo effect,” creates expectations of harm, which can lead to seriously negative health consequences.

A patient’s expectations of a treatment clearly influence the way it works. The authors of a 2012 German study note that vulnerable, ill, or injured patients are highly receptive to negative suggestion. A participant in one drug trial developed dangerously low blood pressure by “overdosing” on what he thought was an antidepressant—only when he learned that it was an inert substance did his blood pressure return to normal. (Conversely, the power of positive suggestion may explain some of the success of complementary therapies—from herbal remedies to homeopathy). The more strongly a patient believes in the treatment, the more likely it is to be effective. Here are some ways you can put this knowledge to…

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The Benefits of Optimism

If you always see the brighter side of things, you may feel that you experience more positive events in your life than others, find yourself less stressed, and even enjoy greater health benefits.

optimism

This is not your imagination.

I have written time and again about the benefits of a postive mental outlook. Check out the following to read further:

How You Can Benefit From a Positive View of Life – WSJ

How to Become a Positive Thinker

How to Harness Positive Psychology for You – Harvard

These are just a sample. Search out Positivity in the SEARCH box at the right for more.

Tony

Our Better Health

Staying positive can improve stress management, productivity, and your health

By Elizabeth Scott, M.S.   Stress Management Expert    April 02, 2015.

Do you know someone who seems to always have a smile and a positive thought? Or are you yourself one of those people who is full of optimism? Hardships are seen as ‘learning experiences’ by optimists, and even the most miserable day always holds the promise for them that ‘tomorrow will probably be better.’

If you always see the brighter side of things, you may feel that you experience more positive events in your life than others, find yourself less stressed, and even enjoy greater health benefits.

This is not your imagination.

Researchers like Martin Seligman have been studying optimists and pessimists for years, and they have found that an optimistic world view carries certain advantages.

The Benefits of Optimism

Superior Health

In a study of 99 Harvard…

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How You Can Benefit from a Positive View on Your Life – WSJ

Regular readers know that I have embraced the theory of positive psychology. I have written a number of posts on the benefits of a positive point of view. You can find an index of them at the end of this post.

Meanwhile, I was thrilled to see Elizabeth Bernstein’s piece in the Personal Journal of Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal entitled “It’s Healthy to Put a Good Spin on Your Life.”

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In a study of a large number of adults in their mid to late 50’s researchers found that “when people displayed higher levels of agency, communion and redemption and lower levels of contamination, their mental health improved. They consider good mental health to be low levels of depression and high levels of life satisfaction and psychological and social well-being.”

They explained the four keys to good mental health as follows:

• Agency—Did the subjects feel able to influence and respond to events in life, or did they feel battered around by the whims of external forces?

• Communion—Are the people connected to others or disconnected?
• Redemption—Did the subjects take a negative experience and find some positive outcome?
• Contamination—Did they tell narratives of good things turning bad?”

I would like to point you to a post I wrote in May of 2011 called Super Tools for Handling Stress.

In it I quoted Maggie Crowley, Psy.D., a Health Psychologist at the center for Integrative Medicine and Wellness at Northwestern Memorial Physicians Group.

Dr. Crowley listed the following as maladaptive coping strategies:

*Demand our circumstances be different
*Devalue ourselves and others
*Demean/blame ourselves and others
*When the above fail to work, do we choose another strategy?
*Or, do we double our ill-conceived efforts and feed our downward spiral.

She said that we needed something to shift our mental gears out of the stressful/fearful response that triggers that damaging cascade of negative emotion. She suggested the following activities that set off the parasympathetic approach:

*Practicing appreciation
*Making choices that are positive
*Using constructive language
*Employing our strengths and personal power.

I think there is a great similarity between the four keys to good mental health mentioned in the Journal and the points made by Dr. Crowley in dealing with stressors.

Regarding positive psychology, I have found it answered a lot of questions for me. If you are interested you can explore it in the following posts:
What is Positive Psychology?
How to Harness Positive Psychology for You – Harvard
Breaking down 8 Barriers to Positive Thinking – Infographic
11 Ways to Become a Better, More Positive You
How to Become a Positive Thinker
7 Exercises That Train Your Brain to Stay Positive
Positive, Happy People Suffer Less Pain

Tony

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How to Be More Optimistic

Reframe your frustrations. Researchers at the University of Kent in England found that people who strived to see the positive side of things that went wrong – rather than venting to friends about what went wrong, or blaming themselves for small failures – were happier and more satisfied at the end of the day.

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To read further on positive thinking, check out my posts:
What is Positive Psychology?
Breaking down 8 Barriers to Positive Thinking – Infographic
How to Become a Positive Thinker
Positive Thoughts To Dwell On
How to Harness Positive Psychology for You – Harvard
Positive, Happy People Suffer Less Pain

Tony

 

Our Better Health

Perspective is everything, and you can learn to change a negative outlook.

By Colleen Oakley      WebMD Magazine – Feature Reviewed by Patricia A. Farrell, PhD

Think happy thoughts. Find the silver lining. Look on the bright side.

Rolling your eyes yet? Alexandra Hruz is. She’s a 27-year-old self-proclaimed pessimist who lives in Chattanooga, TN. “When people are overly optimistic, it’s much easier to be let down by circumstances,” she says. “I don’t think the world is going to end tomorrow, but I also don’t like to hang my hopes on things working out on their own, simply by the power of positive thinking.”

But experts say positive thinking has serious benefits that go beyond a perky attitude. According to a recent study from the University of Pittsburgh, women who expect good things to happen have a 30% lower risk for heart disease.

Optimism was also linked to a…

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