Positive Mindset – What It Is and Why It Matters
Think positive. Keep a positive attitude. We hear it all the time. Stay positive. But, why? What does it really mean and why is it so important?
A positive mindset is more than just thinking a few happy thoughts. A positive mindset is more of a broad outlook of positivity and seeing the good or the possibility in things as opposed to the bad or limitations of things. It’s sort of the “glass half full vs half-empty” concept. And, here’s the key: how you view your world influences the choices you make. These choices in turn, shape your quality of life.
You might be thinking, “Well, that’s all fine and good but it’s hard to be positive when things aren’t peachy keen.” That’s actually the time when positive mindset can make all a world of difference! As we age, some things do get harder and we do face challenges. How you approach aging and the challenges it brings can make a huge difference on physical and emotional health. In fact, research suggests that a positive attitude has tremendous impact on health and the aging process, so much so that some have referred to this positivity towards aging as a “fountain of youth”.
Why Mindset Matters
Your mindset is the filter through which you experience life. Having a positive mindset influences how we interpret the world around us. It influences how we approach things, the choices we make and the feelings we have about things that happen. Having a positive mindset can help you to feel hope and optimism, even in the face of adversity. It’s not about stoically enduring. Rather, it is allowing yourself to approach whatever experience comes your way with hope and grace. In other words, if you expect and look for the positive, you’ll find it. If you expect and look for the negative, you’ll find it. It might sound a bit cliché, but there is solid science behind cultivating a positive attitude.
Study after study has linked a positive mental attitude or mindset to a number of physical and emotional benefits for seniors:
- Promotes happiness and mood stability
- Promotes cognitive functioning and helps combat cognitive decline
- Decreases stress/anxiety that can negatively impact health and well-being
- Lowers risk for cardiovascular issues
- Slows the aging process by supporting health and longevity
- Improves social relationships and encourages social connection
- Improves ability to cope, especially when dealing with adversity
- Lowers mortality risk – people with a positive outlook tend to live longer!
The list goes on and on. So, now you might be wondering, “Just how do I get a positive mindset?” Read on!
Cultivating A More Positive Mindset
The emotions are a funny thing. We are taught to believe that emotions just happen. The fact is, you have a tremendous amount of control over how you respond to something. It is possible to cultivate a more positive outlook. Like anything we do, it takes intention and some practice. As your attitude shifts, you may find yourself looking for the positives and approaching situations with a more optimistic mindset.
When you’re ready to shift that mindset, here are some tips for getting started.
Practice Gratitude Daily
More than saying thank you, practicing gratitude is the intentional recognition of the good things we experience each day as well as the role other people play in bringing goodness into our lives. Practicing gratitude teaches us to look for and affirm the positive each day. A great way to start is with a gratitude journal. At the end of each day, write down three things, moments, or people that somehow enriched your day. Make some notes about why these things were so important to you. If someone has particularly touched your life in some positive way that day, reach out and let them know. Affirmation is powerful and brings a sense of connectedness and appreciation for all the blessings in your life.
Maintain Social Connections
Staying connected to the people in your life. Nurture relationships with your partner or spouse, family, friends, and others in your community. If you find you’re isolated from others, look for ways to connect. Maybe you can volunteer or join a local seniors community group. Some seniors find social connection in traveling and meeting new people. If that sounds like you, look for senior travel opportunities. And when you’re packing, travel in style and comfort. Don’t forget to take those all-important comfort items like an adult clothing protector or bib, comfy, foot friendly slippers, or warm compression gloves. You’ll be prepared no matter where your social adventures take you!
Mindfulness sounds complicated but it’s actually nothing more than allowing yourself to be fully present in the moment. When we’re stressed, it’s easy to ruminate on the past or worry about the future. When we do that, we miss the beauty and fullness of the moment we’re in. And, when it’s gone, it’s gone. When you are fully present in the moment, you can connect with the experience and with yourself. Focusing the mind in the present takes a little practice. An easy way to start is to simply breathe. Breathe slowly and deeply, listening to your breath as it enters and exits your body. Just a few minutes a day can help you to feel more centered and focused. It’s also a great tool to use any time you need a quick relaxation break.
When you see your glass as half-full, you just may be amazed at all the wonderful, positive people and experiences that are present in your life every day. Embrace the positivity!