Editorial: ‘Lemonade for life’

By on June 27, 2013

by Mark Underwood
Neuroscience researcher, president and co-founder of Quincy Bioscience

On cold, dreary, overcast days, do you dream about trading the chilly weather for a gorgeous day under azure blue skies and perfect temperatures?

That wishful thinking is a positive way to look at the world. The good news is it’s more than wishing you had better weather—positive thoughts are good for your mental and physical health.

Wishful thinking can help you get through many challenges of everyday life. How we handle these challenges can affect our overall health. Use a positive approach by taking the bitter moments of life and mix them into your “lemonade pitcher.”

Make a virtual pitcher of lemonade out of bitter lemons and you’ll be doing yourself a favor in more ways than one. For one thing, you’ll be protecting yourself from the harmful effects of stress.

No fancy shoes or
special equipment needed

Stress is nearly impossible to avoid. As we age, the effects of stress take a greater toll on our health and can disrupt our sleep. Positive thinking is not just window dressing for a problem; it is a management technique and potentially a lifesaver.

Effective stress management is an important life skill for all of us to learn how to incorporate into our daily routines.

Why do positive thinkers often experience health benefits? Several studies have suggested that people with positive outlooks are able to cope better with stressful situations and that reduces the harmful effects of stress on your body.

It’s also thought that people who put a positive spin on life tend to live healthier lifestyles. They tend to get more physical activity, follow a healthier diet and don’t smoke or drink alcohol in excess.

These are other direct benefits from optimistic thinking:
• Increased life span
• Greater resistance to common colds
• Lower rates of depression
• Reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease

One of the great things about thinking happy thoughts is that you can do it without special equipment or training. Anybody can focus on positive thinking. It takes some practice, but the more you make a conscious effort to think positively, the easier it becomes.

You can pull up a mental image of something whenever you need a quick antidote to the day’s stress —whether you are in the park, on the train, or in between meetings.

What you may be missing

In today’s world, many of us lead busy hectic lives. We’re running from one thing to another, and consequently, we may neglect our emotional well-being and that’s when we can start to feel rundown and negative.

It is common knowledge that inactivity, lack of exercise or poor sleep can lead to feeling down. Everyone feels overtired and sluggish at one time or another. You may even feel like your memory is slowing down.

“Call, email, text your mind”
with mental boosts

Optimistic thinking is about finding good in negative situations, keeping an open mind when things go wrong, and approaching challenges with a focus on positive outcomes.

We all have some narrative running in the back of our minds. If your internal dialogue is negatively based and often focused on failure, chart a new course.

Here are some ways you can do that:

• Listen for negativity. Find one place in your daily routine where you often run into negativity. Listen for the internal voice emerging with potential news of failure. Ignore it. Change the channel and find a new internal voice saying, “This could work.”
• Live for wellness. When you feel good you’re much more likely to want to avoid negativity and not get bogged down in muddy thoughts. Exercise has a profound effect on ability to cope with stress. It elevates our moods and helps fuel positive thinking.
• Learn to laugh. Laughter is one of the most enjoyable ways to let the day’s stressors melt away. Humor has been studied extensively for its major effect on our wellbeing. As social beings we thrive with positive contact with others. Positive people are contagious.