Developing a healthy attitude is as important for your health as eating right, exercising and quitting smoking. Negative attitudes cause emotional reactions that strongly affect your physical health. People who are chronically angry and hostile are up to five times more likely to have a heart attack than people who are happy.
Most of our mental attitudes and habits are learned in childhood, so the challenge will be to improve and replace them with proven healthy ones.
Are You an Optimist or a Pessimist?
When you look at a partially filled glass of water, do you see it as half-filled or half-empty? The difference can have a profound impact on your health.
Webster’s dictionary defines a optimist as one who “anticipates the best possible outcome;” whereas, a pessimist “expects the worst possible outcome.” When it comes to life and health, we must become an optimist to have a positive attitude. With practice and determination, anyone can learn to be optimistic. Perhaps you consider yourself an optimist already. As with any skill, repetition and practice can only improve it.
Keep a Journal
At bedtime tonight, set your alarm 10-15 minutes earlier than usual. Spend this extra time planning your day. Write down your day’s activities and events. Anticipate the steps you’ll take to make them go well.
Tomorrow night before bed, write down two or three things that went well during the day. It can be something big or small, such as:
- You heard from a friend you haven’t talked to in awhile
- Your boss offered praise for a job you did
- You found a great parking spot while out shopping
Next to each item, write why you think each item happened. Perhaps you heard from your friend because she was excited to share some news with you and because you are a good listener. Maybe you were praised by your boss because you worked hard on a project and your boss appreciates your efforts. And you found that great parking spot because it was your lucky day!
Make a commitment to start and end every day with these two exercises so it becomes a habit. This exercise helps you become more organized and -- by ending each day on a positive note -- more optimistic over time. Keep your notes in a journal that matches your personality so that you look forward to using it.
Conditions such as sleep deprivation, depression and chronic pain can contribute to a negative attitude and complicate your efforts to create a healthy lifestyle. You don’t need to go it alone. Some struggles might need input from a medical professional