Article by Dr Sally Norton.
Many people see positivity as a genetic trait – something they are either born with, or not. In the same way that we might talk about our eye colour or height, many of us will describe ourselves as naturally optimistic or pessimistic. However, your brain can change! In the same way that we can train our brains to appreciate healthy food, we can train ourselves to have a more positive outlook on life.
When you find yourself thinking those negative thoughts about yourself, your circumstances, or even about others, STOP! Instead, force yourself to think of three positive things instead – there will always be something. If you persevere with looking for the good, instead of the bad, it will become a habit. It’s well worth the effort – the benefits of being more optimistic are now being recognised in numerous studies …
Improved heart health
According to a new study from the University of Illinois, having a positive outlook on life could provide you with better heart health. The study of more than 5,100 adults, found that those people who were most optimistic, were twice as likely to be in ideal cardiovascular health, compared with their pessimistic counterparts, with significantly better blood sugar and cholesterol levels. Not only this, but the optimists were also more likely to be physically active and have healthier BMIs.
More likely to succeed
You might think that succeeding would lead you to feeling happier, but in actual fact, it works the other way round. Studies show that positivity and a happier outlook will increase your chances of success. For example, did you know that ¾ of our success at work is linked to our optimism and how well we manage and deal with stress, rather than our IQ? And being positive could help you to achieve better results in smaller tasks – in fact, studies have shown that people who are encouraged to think positively before a maths test actually did better than others!
Better chances of ditching the junk food
Struggling to lose that last half a stone? We all know that when we’re feeling negative, we instinctively turn to sugary and fatty foods that will give our bodies a quick burst of energy and feel-good hormones. However, this is swiftly followed by a crash in our blood sugar levels – leaving us feeling even worse than before. These junk foods also do little to help us lose any weight, adding to those negative feelings that left us reaching for the junk food in the first place! So instead, try focusing on the positives – think about how hard you’ve worked so far, and how good you’ll feel when you finally reach your goal weight, and you’ll find those negative yearnings for junk food soon dissipate!
More likely to stick with your fitness goals
Thinking about fitness in a negative way will make you more likely to bail at the first opportunity. Studies show that a positive frame of mind helps people to stick with their fitness regimes as well as their healthy eating goals. Once you get exercising, that positivity is helped even more by the endorphins or feel-good hormones that exercise releases. If you find that the thought of heading to the gym leaves you feeling miserable (I don’t blame you!), then ditch the gym! Try finding different ways you could keep fit – fitness classes, swimming, or brisk walks in the fresh air. There’s something out there for everyone, and when you’ve found an activity that you really enjoy, those positive feelings will make you more likely to stick with it for the long-haul.
Comment by Dr Sally Norton, Health Expert & NHS weight loss consultant surgeon. Founder of www.vavistalife.com .