This article is dedicated to my grandmother. Bed ridden though she was, with acute arthritis, she radiated enthusiasm. She always greeted us with a smile, hug and a sharp-witted dig. Perhaps it was her undying zest for life that kept her loved, alert, and otherwise well until 87.
You may have noticed that while some of our elders seem happy and active way into their senior years, others find it difficult to emotionally cope with failing health and diminishing faculties. As much as this difference can be attributed to genetic disposition, positive thinking as one grows older plays a significant role in our general health as well. Aging is inevitable; however, it is easier to deal with, if we have a positive attitude. A study done by the Yale School of Health shows aging stereotypes with positive thinking are more likely to recover from disability and illnesses than those with a negative attitude.
Positive attitude = Health + happiness
This equation says it all. Various studies and published articles by health organizations such as the Mayo Clinic highlight the benefits of having a positive attitude:
- Increasing life span
- Lower levels of distress
- Lower rate of depression
- Greater resistance to common colds
- Improved psychological and physical well-being
- Reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases
- Improved capacity to deal with hardship and stress.
The prescription for positive attitude
A measure of acceptance – It begins with accepting aging gracefully and understanding your physical and mental changes. Aging need not be a handicap and should not stop you from having fun. In fact, in your golden years you will have more time to engage in activities that you may have postponed when you were younger, and busy working or running your family. For example, you could learn ballroom dancing or start on that hobby which you did not continue because you were otherwise busy – Gardening, sewing, cooking, or anything that makes you happy and gives you positive vibes is a great way to spice up your life.
A strong dose of positive thinking – One way to pull yourself out of a state of despair is to practice to have positive thinking, by actively eliminating negative thoughts. Whenever you think, “I can’t do that, it is too much of a hassle”, you must stop right there and will yourself to think, “I can do it and I will feel be better if I do it?”.
A spoonful of laughter -You may have heard of the saying ‘laughter is the best medicine.’ Well there is an element of truth to it. Give yourself permission to smile or laugh, especially during difficult times. If you can laugh at life, all your cares will seem so much more less wearisome.
A daily regime of keeping fit and looking good – It is very important to be active in your senior years. This will keep your mind ticking and more importantly eliminate boredom and loneliness. An individual who makes an effort to exercise on a frequent basis – even if it’s a simple daily stroll will be healthier and happier.
Sometimes as one gets older one tends to get careless about appearances. Spend some time on grooming and personal care. Simple efforts to dress nicely will make you feel good about yourself and lift your spirits.
Regular exposure to joyful company – Friends are a big part of our lives. However, spending time with people who have a positive, can-do attitude towards life will make a huge difference to your mental well-being as well. Friends with a positive attitude will advice you well, give constructive feedback and are supportive. Even spending time with young children can add a much-needed sparkle to your day. Young energy can be very encouraging and infectious.
A quiet moment of spirituality – When you are distressed, it helps to look to a spiritual source for some peace of mind. It will give you time to reflect on the situation and face your challenges with optimism. After all faith fuels hope, and hope fuels a positive attitude.
A generous amount of community work – It is not always only about making yourself feel good. Helping others does wonders for your soul. Whether you provide those in need with your time or financial support, your thoughtfulness and service will make you feel better about your life.
Removal of emotional baggage – Don’t dwell upon something that happened years ago. Deal with it and set it aside. Choose what you want to change and take action. Harping on the past only keeps negative emotions like anger, regret, guilt, shame and worthlessness alive. It is time to cast those feelings out, and face the future with hope and cheer.
There are many ways to improve your life with confidence and positive energy. However, it is up to you to make it happen. This is not always easy to do, but with a little bit of effort and practice you can bring some sunshine in to your life and the lives of those around you.