What Can a Positive Outlook Do?

up-by-hilary-tindleLast week, I gave a talk on the power of belief to the Greater Atlanta chapter of the National Aging in Place Council. My message was based on numerous studies and books I have read on the subject. Here’s one such book I found interesting. In UP: How Positive Outlook Can Transform Our Health and Aging, Dr. Hilary Tindle describes how something as simple as the way we think, feel, and view things can fundamentally impact how we age.

Our outlook might be one of suspicion and anger. Such a person would perceive people and events around them with hostility. At the other extreme, our outlook could be one of positive expectations. Such a person views things with optimism. Whatever outlook we may have, it doesn’t just affect how we experience daily events. Research shows that our outlook can impact every facet of our health, including whether we become depressed, suffer a heart attack, stroke, or develop cancer. Further, studies have demonstrated that people with a positive outlook live a healthier and longer life.

By choosing to adjust our outlook on life, we choose to have some say in how fast our body ages. One technique Tindle writes about is to notice when we are feeling anxious. If you can catch yourself in the act of working yourself up, you can stop and switch to a conscious intent to relax. For example, you might take a few slow, deep breaths or focus on the sensations the anxiety is causing in your body. Or you could listen to some music or think about something that brings you joy.

Any relaxation technique can help. As we practice turning from anxiety to a state of calm relaxation on a regular basis, we can slow down the aging process.

So check your attitude, perspective, or outlook often. See if it is taking you in the direction of health and a long life. If it isn’t, make the effort to change it. A positive outlook offers benefits worth going after.

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