The Benefits of Positivity & How to Be More Optimistic
7 minute read
If laughter is the best medicine, then positivity is the perfect cure. A positive outlook and approach to the day can make a difference in your mental as well as physical health.
Beyond just wearing a smile every day, you need to surround yourself with positive people and vibes. Negativity can travel around like a gloomy rain cloud, and too much down time can depress your health and well-being.
Collective Positivity: A Japanese Tradition
More-balanced diets and regular exercise are the typical go-to choices for improving health, but people forget the power of the mind and its influence over your body. Studies recently found that some health behaviors are contagious, which means your social circles have the power to influence your overall heath from mood to weight gain.
| Related: Why Nutritional Psychiatry Is the Future of Mental Health |
Scientists have found that certain parts of the world, designated to be “blue zones,” have longer life averages. The one thing these areas all have in common is that people living here all maintain positive friendships or social circles.
Relationships and belonging are essential needs for human health, so it makes sense that we want to fit in with those around us. Just as there are bad influences, there are also good.
Based on a Japanese tradition, researchers have established that social groupings and lasting friendships are pivotal to health and longevity. In Japan where the average life expectancy is over 90 years, people form groups called a moai.
A moai is a group of five friends who offer each other emotional, social, logistical, and even financial support for life. Parents place their children in moais to form relationships that last a lifetime.
These groups get to share in the joys and successes of each member and support the losses and bad times for each other too. They also seem to influence the personalities and behaviors of each member.
| Related: The Secret of Happiness, According to 75-Year Harvard Study |
By putting people into moais that have similar interests and values, they naturally bond and form lasting relationships. As part of the group, there is a desire to stay close, which unconsciously drives behaviors.
Along with having similar behaviors over time, the members of a moai also have similar attitudes and outlooks. As they support each other and celebrate with each other, they are able to influence one another.
Collectively they form a positive outlook on relationships and life. Being in the presence of similar, like-minded, positive people naturally causes you to be happy too.
Power of Positivity
The positive mindset and support that comes from belonging to a social circle not only keeps you happy, but it benefits your physical and mental health. Positive thinking and views of the life around you help to promote better health and well-being through your body.
Feeling good actually makes you better, and a positive mind can lead to a positive life.
| Related: Why Your Mental Health May Require a Day at the Beach |
Surrounding yourself with positive people will have benefits for your outlook and your health, as there is something to be said about the power of positivity.
1. Cope With Stress Better
Positive thinkers have been shown to cope with stressful situations more effectively. Optimism allows individuals to focus on the problem at hand to find a solution, whereas pessimism triggers unhelpful thoughts and additional worries.
A positive thinker will take control of the situation rather than let the situation control them. When you don’t allow stress to take over, you stay calm, approach and solve the problem logically, then move on.
Achieving the solution effectively contributes to even more positive thinking.
2. Improved Immunity
Recent studies have found that positive outlooks have a powerful effect on your physical body. More than just giving you positive thoughts, your immune system gets a boost too.
Areas of the brain that are activated with negative emotions have a direct impact on your immune system and weaken its overall response. In addition to this, stress and worry trigger inflammatory responses, which are linked to the development of serious diseases.
Belonging to a positive circle helps keep you positive and keep stress at bay, so inflammation is not given the opportunity to shut you down.
3. Lower Blood Pressure
Hypertension is often linked to high stress, anxiety, and poor lifestyle choices, like smoking and alcohol. Typically these vices are used to cope, but when you have a positive circle of friends, you don’t need to turn to them as much.
Being positive prevents you from choosing potentially harmful behaviors that can increase blood pressure and your risk of heart disease.
4. Become More Resilient
Positivity breeds resiliency, which means you can cope with tough situations more easily. Positivity and resiliency keep you calm under pressure and keep emotions in check, so that no matter what life throws at you, you will have it handled.
5. Overall Well-Being
Positivity can reduce stress, or at least make you better equipped to handle it, and also enhances your immune system. By reducing stress and improving immunity, your risk of stress-related diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, is reduced.
| Related: How Knitting, Crocheting, and Jam-Making Improve Mental Health |
In addition to this, people with positive outlooks tend to be more health conscious and live healthier lifestyles, both of which contribute to better health and longevity.
Research has found that individuals that regularly practice positive thinking and have positive outlooks on life, live longer. Studies of the moais in Japan support this finding, as belonging to the pre-arranged social groups has been linked to longevity for the included members.
The reduction of stress alone is a great way to add years to your life, and positive thinking takes care of that naturally.
The Bottom Line
You may not belong to a moai, but you can certainly have a close social circle that you turn to in times of need and also with whom you share joyful occasions. When you have people to support you during stressful times, the stress is easier to handle.
With positive people in your life, positivity spreads and as a collective, you are all happier people.