Research Proves You Can Heal Yourself With Your Mind – Here are four simple ways to do it

34480115_sWe’ve all heard the well-known sayings like, “Look on the bright side” and “Keep your chin up.” They are often shared for encouragement during challenging times and then forgotten in the pace of daily life. But research shows us that the optimistic mindset behind these simple truths can be a powerful source of strength and health to our bodies and minds.

Optimism is a mindset that generates thoughts and language choices focused on positive outcomes. It causes us to always be looking for and finding solutions to problems and ways over obstacles because we are convinced there will always be a way.

Studies of optimism overwhelmingly show that it beats a pessimistic outlook in every way. Optimists reach more goals, make more money, and have better relationships. They also don’t get sick as often, heal faster when they do, and bounce back far more quickly from surgeries or setbacks. For this reason, researchers have looked for ways to study this miraculous mindset.

There are two primary measurements researchers use to measure and study optimism. The first is called dispositional optimism, which describes the overall positive expectations that optimists have about their future. They don’t just believe good will happen in certain areas; they believe that good in general will happen in all areas.

The second is to examine how people frame challenging situations. Each of us has something called an explanatory style located on a spectrum spanning optimistic and pessimistic outlooks and language habits. An optimistic explanatory style sees things as temporary and specific, whereas a pessimistic style sees things as permanent and pervasive.

Optimism has been proven to protect the heart and circulation, to stabilize blood pressure and stave off heart disease. It is also a clear indicator of overall health. According to Harvard Health:

A large, short-term study evaluated the link between optimism and overall health in 2,300 older adults. Over two years, people who had a positive outlook were much more likely to stay healthy and enjoy independent living than their less cheerful peers.

Staying well for two years is one thing, remaining healthy for the long haul another. But for 447 patients who were evaluated for optimism as part of a comprehensive medical evaluation between 1962 and 1965, the benefits of a positive outlook were desirable indeed. Over a 30-year period, optimism was linked to a better outcome on eight measures of physical and mental function and health.

Because of its power over our life and health, it’s important to know we can actually increase our levels of optimism. Here are four proven methods:

Explanatory Style: Take a moment and analyze your own explanatory style. Do you tend to see problems as permanent and pervasive? If so, find ways to raise your own awareness of obstacles being nothing more than a temporary and specific problem to solve.

Self-Talk: Optimistic self-talk is more than replacing the phrases that say, “I can’t do it!” with simple “I can do it!” phases. It asks a question: “How can I do this?” By articulating the steps to achieve a desired ending, you put yourself in a frame of mind to move towards it.

Small Daily Improvements: You can actually put your optimism growth on autopilot with daily habits that train your brain to reflect on the positives. For example, daily moments of self-reflection where you ask yourself “What went right today?” and “What would I like to go better next time?” can be used to focus on the positives.

Acts of Kindness: Choices to give back and pay it forward ignite gratitude and a spirit of altruism that positively affect you and those you serve with your kindness.

The choice to increase optimism levels allows us to move towards health and happiness in every area of life. We can explore new levels of healing and wholeness with habits of optimism.