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POSITIVE THINKING, OPTIMISM AND HEALTH

Optimism

Research suggests we can extend our lives by 7 to 10 years, just by being optimistic. If true, training our mind to think positively, being solution orientated and engaging constructively in our lives could be as influential as exercise and healthy eating. It is likely that being optimistic is a happier and more enjoyable state than pessimism. Being optimistic can also make us more attractive to other people and easier to enjoy happy relationships.

It make sense to combine positive thinking with healthy eating and exercise to create the ultimate healthy lifestyle.

So how do we become more optimistic?

Meditation

When we meditate we activate the part of our brain that processes current sensorial information and quietens the part that does the thinking, drawing on the past and projecting into the future. This takes us away a part of our brain that can cause stress and to a part that generally helps us feel content. With practice, between 10 to 20 minutes at day, for example 10, one minute meditations, our brain becomes better developed in terms of being more optimistic. It is like going to the gym to build up our biceps, but in this case a part of our front left lobe, that creates optimism. Try feeling every breath for a minute, to begin a simple meditation.

Mindfulness

Enjoying dipping in and out of periods of mindfulness we further strengthen our ability to be in the moment and develop the part of our mind that is claimed to help us generally become more optimistic.

Mindfulness could include walking whilst feeling every step, using all 5 senses to enjoy a cup of tea, listening to as many notes as possible of a piece of music, feeling the wind on our cheeks, relaxing in the sun, giving or receiving a massage and so on.

Affirmations

We can practice being more positive by writing affirmations about ourselves or what we would like to do. We could display the affirmations so we see them and remind ourselves regularly. It could be particularly powerful to read them just before going to sleep and when waking.

They are most powerful when writing in present as an action that you are doing. Examples of affirmations would be, ‘I am better at listening to my children’, ‘I am finding new ways to relax’, ‘I am writing a new novel’, ‘I am letting go of issues that cause me resentment’...

Inspiring statements, stories or quotes can encourage a more optimistic state of mind.

Using a Positive Language

When we talk about ourselves, or think about ourselves the words we use will give the description an optimistic or pessimistic tone. Those words influence our mind, which parts of our mind become more energised and ultimately our perception of life.

Pay attention to words that are self limiting, negative, self defeating, self depreciating or paint a hopeless description.

For example;

“I tried it before and it didn’t work” to “I learnt from trying it before and will be able to be better this time”.

“I am no good at...” to “I am getting better at...”

“I had a horrible childhood and still cannot...” to “My childhood challenges have made me better able to...”

“I wish I was more...” to “I am becoming more...”

Try to word the positive sentences in a way that is honest, possible and practical.

Looking for the Beauty of Life

Research showed that focussing on and clicking on happy faces on a computer screen helped the client become more optimistic. Another way of interpreting this is to look for the beauty in life. It could be flowers, clouds, smiley faces, colourful meals, art, leaves blowing in the wind, rain drops falling on a puddle, architecture, colours, other creatures...

Changing Habits

A lot of habits can be changed in one lunar cycle, or about 30 days. If we have developed a habit of being pessimistic we will need to make an effort and use our will power to change the habit. You could make a commitment to be optimistic for 30 days. Write an affirmation each day, work on positive thinking, practice meditation and mindfulness and look for the beauty in life.

Copyright Simon Brown, London, 2013