Your level of optimism can determine not just how well you live, but also how long.
Research shows that optimism has numerous health benefits, including: decreased stress, greater resistance to germs, a sense of well-being and improved health, reduced risk of coronary artery disease, easier breathing with chronic lung disease, and longer life.
How you talk to yourself greatly determines whether you are an optimist or pessimist. If your self-talk, also called automatic thinking, is mostly negative, your view of the world, and your experiences, are going to reflect this mindset. Four common forms of pessimistic thinking include:
Filtering: magnifying negative aspects of a situation and filtering out the positive ones
Personalizing: automatically blaming yourself when something bad happens
Catastrophizing: automatically anticipating the worst
Polarizing: seeing things only as good or bad, with no middle ground
Self-talk develops over years. However, it is possible to change the messages you give yourself and start thinking more optimistically. It just takes awareness, time and practice.
Some examples of turning negative self-talk positive:
N: I’ve never done it before.
P: It’s an opportunity to learn something new.
N: It’s too complicated.
P: How can I look at this from a different angle?
N: I don’t have the resources.
P: Necessity is the mother of invention.
N: There’s no way it will work.
P: I can try to make it work.
N: I don’t have the expertise.
P: I’ll find people who can help me.
N: It’s too much of a change.
P: I’m going to take a chance.
— Source: Mayo Clinic