Behind all of my writing and presentations is idea that the thoughts we repeatedly hold in mind have a dramatic effect on our day and on our lives. The kinds of thinking we tend to have shape how well we age and how long we live.
Over the years, studies have shown that positive thinkers are able to age more successfully—that is, they maintain better health and remain active longer. Positive thinking has repeatedly been tied to greater well-being and longer life.
In my own study, after interviewing women over 60, I found that those who maintained a positive outlook were most able to maintain good health. By focusing on what they were grateful for they were better able to cope with challenges.
Think about the way you respond to scary or depressing information in advertising that targets older adults. People with a positive view of aging have been shown to have better physical functioning than those who view aging negatively. They also recover more quickly after accidents or surgery. The way you think about growing older has more of an effect on the way you age than diet, quitting cigarettes, or your genes.
If you don’t consider yourself an optimist, not to worry. You can cultivate the practice of positive thinking. The first step is to notice the thoughts that run through your mind throughout the day. Catch yourself obsessing over frightening news stories. Pay attention to when you worrying.
Challenge your thoughts because they aren’t always true. Decide if what you are thinking is moving you in the direction you want to go. If not, then begin replacing those negative thoughts with more positive, empowering ones.
Instead of ruminating on “my best years are behind me…it’s all downhill from here” turn that around and think “I am just starting to hit my stride…the best is yet to be.” A change in thought can change your outlook.
The more you break the habit of thinking negatively, the more you can shift the way you live and take charge of the way you age. It’s worth a thought.