To quote author and women’s advocate Betty Friedan, “Aging is not lost youth but a new stage of opportunity and strength.”
Getting older might not be something we all look forward to, but aging is a reality we all have to face. And how we approach the passing of the years, say aging experts, has a lot to do with our happiness and health later in life.
Is a Positive Attitude the Fountain of Youth?
According to the medial journal, Psychology Today, positive attitudes about aging may be a “fountain of youth,” as positive self-perceptions about getting older may slow down the aging process.
Recently, researchers found that having positive self-perceptions about the benefits of getting older can create a self-fulfilling prophecy by helping people stay mentally, physically, and psychologically younger. A positive attitude is believed to help insulate us against the common stressors and negative experiences that occur with age, and is also thought to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and cognitive decline.
On the flip side, researchers on aging say that various studies have found a strong correlation between negative perceptions about aging and physical frailty. Additionally, researchers tell us that physical frailty in older age is associated with lower cognitive abilities, when compared to peers who are less frail in older age. They say that frailty appears to trigger a domino effect that often cascades into dementia.
The Power of a Positive Attitude
The article, The Importance of a Positive Attitude, addresses the power of positive thinking and offers the following useful advice for people of all ages. “A positive attitude is the guide to leading a positive life. Maintaining a positive attitude through the ups and the downs is important to every aspect of life: your social status, your work, your health and your relationships. If you’re feeling down and having a particularly negative outlook on the way things are going, just remember that attitude is everything and a positive attitude will lead you out of the darkest of times.”
Says Susan Irrgang, RN, LNHA, Executive Director at Saunders House, “Clearly, our attitude toward aging can have a direct and measurable impact on our lives — particularly in terms of our health and happiness. The good news is there are specific steps you can take to improve your outlook on life as you get older — all of which we embrace for our own residents here at Saunders Housethrough our life enrichment activities.
5 Steps to a More Positive Attitude Toward Aging
So, how do we achieve a more positive outlook on getting older?
Aging experts and researchers agree that the following lifestyle factors can be beneficial in improving your attitude about getting older and enhancing your quality of life. And it’s never too late to incorporate these behaviors into your daily routine.
1. Stay physically active– Physical activity and exercise is highly beneficial to our physical and emotional health. Moderate daily exercise is an excellent way of reducing stress, maintaining a healthy weight, strengthening aging bones and improving attitude. Experts on aging say that a regular routine of walking and strength training is an ideal way for many older Americans to maintain their fitness and sense of well-being. Before starting an exercise program, consult your doctor to decide on a plan that’s right for you.
2. Be socially engaged – Maintaining existing social connections and creating new ones is also said to be vital to our physical and emotional health as we age. According to Dr. Paul Nussbaum, clinical neuropsychologistandauthor of “Your Brain Healthy Lifestyle,” it is important for all older Americans to remain integrated in the community, to build a growing network of family and friends, and to be actively engaged in life.”
3. Work on reducing your stress – While it is virtually impossible to avoid additional stress and negative experiences as we age, there are various useful ways to minimize and manage it. Different techniques work for different people, but many have found practices such as meditation, yoga, tai chi, walking, prayer and deep breathing exercises to be helpful. It is important to find a stress-reduction regimen that works for you because stress can be damaging to both mind and body.
4. Keep your brain active – Maintaining a healthy, active brain is another key component of emotional health and well-being as we age, and has also been linked to preventing or delaying dementia. Activities such as crossword puzzles, board games, reading, learning a second language, painting, listening to classical music and developing new skills are also considered valuable to brain health. Today, many older Americans are also taking classes at a local college and taking courses online to stimulate their minds.
5. Engage in purposeful activities – Having a purpose in life and a reason to get up every morning is considered vital to your outlook on life, say aging experts. Think about the things that give your life meaning and purpose and make them a personal priority. Many older Americans find satisfaction and personal fulfillment by engaging in a favorite hobby or giving of themselves to others through volunteering. Whether it’s giving time to a local hospital, animal shelter or senior care community, researchers say that feeling useful can enhance self-worth and mental well-being.
By following these five tips, you can reduce the stress of aging and improve your outlook on life. When applied to getting older, “attitude is everything” has proven to be true!
We encourage you to contact us with any questions you might have, as well as to stay current on a variety of other senior health and care topics by viewing the latest articles on our website.
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Discover Our Healthy Tradition of Care and Wellness
Located adjacent to Lankenau Medical Center, Saunders House – part of Main Line Senior Care Alliance – has a celebrated tradition of providing exceptional care and services to seniors and their families. It’s a tradition we’re proud to continue.
Today, Saunders House offers a range of services – including short-term rehabilitation, traditional nursing care, restorative care, memory care, respite care and specialized care for individuals with visual impairments – all in a setting that is warm, welcoming and nurturing.
For more information on Saunders House, our Short-Term Rehabilitation program and other professional services, please call us today at 610.658.5100 or contact us online.
Disclaimer: The articles and tip sheets on this website are offered by Saunders House and Main Line Senior Care Alliance for general informational and educational purposes and do not constitute legal or medical advice. For legal or medical advice, please contact your attorney or physician.
“One bad apple spoils the bunch,” may be a cliche, but it’s true вЂ” especially if that bad apple is a metaphor for your poor attitude. Whether you’re a true pessimist or just in a funk, attitude changes will improve your relationship with both your partner, and with yourself.
When I worked with couples as a Domestic Violence Victim Advocate and Planned Parenthood Certified Responsible Sexuality Educator, I saw the miraculous changes that occurred in unhappy partnerships when both people just did a little work changing the way they thought about their situations. A joyous attitude really did help create a joyous life.
Now, if you’re in a truly unhealthy relationship, a healthy attitude won’t wave a magic wand over your problems. In fact, rationalizing away your problems with attitude changes in that case is actually a form of denial. But for those of us who just want to experience a little more joy, and who want to make the most of our lives with our partners, some attitude adjustment really is a great place to start. I’ve laid out some common positive attitudes that you can shift your thinking to, as well as why they matter and some concrete steps to help get you there.
1. Life Is Good
Life is good. But why is it so easy to focus on the bad and forget everything else? When you’re single, it’s common to think about how much it sucks to be single. But in relationships, do you also fall back on negative thinking?
How It Can Help: When you have a positive outlook on life, naturally you have a more positive outlook on your relationship. That can only make things better, especially when you’re going through hard times.
What To Do: Practice gratitude each day, even for the little things. Some people find it helpful to keep a gratitude journal so you have something to look back on when it’s hard to muster positivity.
2. I Deserve This
You absolutely deserve love and happiness. You deserve romance, hot sex, true partnership, and anything else that you want out of a relationship.
How It Can Help: When you feel like you don’t deserve the good things in your life, you create a self-fulfilling prophecy. The same is true when you feel like you’re worthy. Also, feeling like you’re not worthy creates a subtle inequality of worth. Not cool.
What To Do: Remind yourself that you deserve this happiness whenever you feel creeping doubt. Give yourself a mini pep-talk.
3. I’m Beautiful
Of course you want your partner to think you’re beautiful, but it really only matters that you think it. You have to be able to rely on yourself for your own validation and to see your own self-worth.
How It Can Help: Being able to see your own beauty is part of having a healthy self-esteem, and healthy self-esteem is essential to healthy relationships.
What To Do: Stop all negative thoughts about your appearance in their tracks and replace them with positive thoughts. You might be surprised how many times per day you have to do this, but don’t give up. You’ll eventually retain your brain to stop going to negative places.
4. This Is My True Partner
Your partner isn’t a child you have to look after, a master you have to serve, a doofus you have to deal with, or god you have to worship. Your partner is just that, a true partner.
How It Can Help: Equality is a beautiful thing. It makes life easier, and more fair, but also more enjoyable. Not to mention, equality is one of the cornerstones of a healthy relationship.
What To Do: Share the responsibility! Share the love. Share the work. Share the blame. Compromise. Approach life as a team. And don’t let those tropes about lovable, but lazy idiot partners you see on TV be your reality.
5. This Person Is Not My Everything
It may feel like that, but it’s not true. It can’t be true. You have to be the center of your world, as a healthy, independent, fully realized person. No other human can or should complete you.
How It Can Help: When your attitude is that your partner enhances your life but isn’t your everything, you keep your friends, maintain your hobbies and interests, and basically do you. And if the day comes when you lose them, you’re still fine on your own two feet, no matter how sad it is.
What To Do: Do you. Keep your friends. Get to a healthy place where you can be alone and take care of yourself if you need to, even if you’re in a relationship. Appreciate that your partner is amazing, but never lose sight of your individuality.
6. I Enjoy Stability
A lot of people get into a relationship, and when the butterflies wear off, they get bored, or they get scared that this person must not be the one. That’s not necessarily the case. What is likely happening is the slow march of stability, which is wonderful and sustaining, if you let it be.
How It Can Help: If you never let yourself experience stability or stick things out when they’re not exciting or fun, you miss out on the joys of deep, long-lasting connection.
What You Can Do: Learn to see stability as a great thing. As a sort of safety net that lets you do you while also doing your relationship. Learn to appreciate that sometimes boring is actually not boring, but content.
7. Money Isn’t Everything
When your money isn’t right, it’s so easy to think your life isn’t right. Everyone is guilty of this. We live in a consumer-driven society. Sure, it’s hard to remember to see the silver lining when we’re worried about rent, but most of the time, money worries get a bigger piece of our attention than they deserve.
How It Can Help: When we aren’t fairly compartmentalizing money in our lives, we tend to let it overshadow other joys. Plus, money is a huge source of stress and arguments in relationships.
What To Do: Budget and do what you can. But take time to remember that money is just one piece of our lives.
Some healthy attitude changes should lead to some healthy relationship improvements. And that includes the relationship you have with yourself.
Images: Nadezhda Zaitceva / EyeEm/EyeEm/Getty Images; Giphy (7)
Work is, well, work. From tight deadlines to coworker communication, it can be challenging to keep on top of it all and doing it with a smile. In this article, we discuss why positivity is important in the workplace and how you can develop and maintain a more positive attitude at work.
Benefits of positivity in the workplace
Having a positive attitude can provide many benefits to your personal and professional life. It can even affect those around you in a positive way. By having a positive attitude at work, you:
- Create a positive environment
- Reduce stress
- Increase productivity levels
- Produce more energy
- Improve customer relations
- Demonstrate leadership capabilities
- Improve decision-making
- Motivate others
Create a positive environment
When you implement a positive attitude at work, coworkers will likely follow suit. Being positive is contagious.
Work demands can cause stress and anxiety. By changing your reaction to stressors at work and instead, thinking positively, you can become more productive, thus, eliminating further stress.
Increases productivity levels
When you feel better, you think better. Once you begin to allow positivity to resonate with you, you will notice your willingness to take on challenging but rewarding tasks and projects. Being less distracted, you’ll be able to get your work completed more efficiently.
Produces more energy
Adopting a more positive outlook at work will give you more energy. Negative thinking expends a lot of unnecessary energy. In a positive frame of mind, you’ll no longer dread tasks. You’ll look forward to them.
Improves customer relations
A positive attitude is foundational to quality customer service. How you approach them has a direct result on the success of your position and company. Your positive attitude will make your customers feel good. That, in turn, will promote a long lasting and successful relationship with them.
Demonstrates leadership capabilities
Managers and leaders look to promote employees who can influence others positively. When you have a positive attitude, you open yourself up to new and exciting work opportunities.
When you have a positive attitude, you become a better decision-maker. Armed with a positive outlook, you’ll consider more favorable outcomes. You’ll see the good that your decision can bring instead of potential negative consequences previously based upon fear and negativity.
Keeping a positive attitude at work inspires others to drop negative habits and become more positive. By your example, they’ll likely start to realize how positivity can benefit them and begin working on cultivating a positive attitude for themselves.
10 ways to develop and maintain a positive attitude at work
Having a positive attitude takes practice. Here are ten ways to start adopting and maintaining a more positive attitude at work (and in life):
Developing a positive attitude
Here are a few ways you can begin to develop a more positive attitude in your day-to-day work.
1. Avoid gossip
Gossip can dismantle teamwork and impact morale in a negative way. To keep positive and productive, avoid gossip and gossipers.
2. Reduce complaints
Complaining is the antithesis of positivity and also, counterproductive. Plus, it often makes you feel worse about the situation, not better. Try to become more conscious of when and why you complain. Doing so will help you reduce the negative behavior as well as find more positive and productive ways to talk about these issues at work.
3. Use a positive vocabulary
Positive vocabulary can improve your overall attitude. Try to replace negative words with positive ones when they come up in conversation.
Smiling can have mood-boosting effects. Other people are also more likely to smile around you and change their attitudes based on your facial expression.
5. Put others first
Try doing nice things for others in your office without expecting anything in return. Selfless acts of kindness most often result in appreciation from your colleagues, which, in turn, makes you both feel good and more positive.
Maintaining a positive attitude
After you’ve identified ways to develop positivity, here are some ways you can maintain that attitude.
1. Get enough rest
You’re more likely to be in a good mood and have a clear mind if you get enough sleep, period.
2. Take breaks
Taking breaks during the day will help you reduce potential stress and negativity while refreshing your mindset. Go for a short walk or do some light stretches.
3. Practice gratitude
Be mindful of all the things you’re thankful for. Focusing on the good in both your work and personal spheres will make you react more patiently and positively to stressful situations. It can be helpful to write down a list of the things you are most thankful for on a daily or weekly basis.
4. Keep visual reminders
Visual reminders to stay positive can help you maintain a good outlook even during stressful events at work. Tape small notes to your computer or around your workspace with a positive affirmation to keep perspective throughout the day.
5. Interact with positive people
Positivity is contagious. Being around positive people will help you maintain a positive mindset.
Perspective is destiny. Here’s how to improve yours.
“Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habit. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.” ― Lao Tzu
Each of us has a set of messages that play over and over in our minds. This internal dialogue, or personal commentary, influences our words, actions, habits, relationships and ultimately, in the words of Lao Tzu, the destiny of our lives.
Too often the pattern of self-talk we’ve developed is negative. This internal seed of negativity causes a dark ripple that extends to all corners of our daily lives. We walk around with a dark cloud hovering close-by, and view all glasses as half-empty. Our conversations always revert to all that is wrong with the world, and we’re constantly expecting the worst.
This negative approach to life can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Concepts such as the law of attraction, “you reap what you sow,” and “birds of a feather flock together,” speak to the magnetic power of our thoughts. Many studies confirm the correlation between positive thinking and success.
So how can we begin to brighten our view of the world, and infuse more positivity into our thought patterns? Although quite simple, these six steps can make a profound impact on your approach to life, and ultimately create a more positive outcome.
- Practice Gratitude.
One of the quickest ways to shift your focus away from negativity, judgment, and disappointment is to list the things in your life for which you are grateful. Be grateful to be gainfully employed, to sleep in a bed each night, for the sun that comes up each morning, for the waiter who greets you with a smile, for the people that love and care for you, and for a body that lets you experience life each day. Practicing gratefulness can cause almost an immediate shift in your perspective. Keeping a daily gratitude journal, even digitally, can help remind you to keep life’s blessings at the forefront of your mind. Another strategy is to have a gratitude partner—someone who can support you in your journey to positive thinking. Each day, text, email or tell each other three things for which you are grateful. Think of this person as your accountability partner for your path to healthy thinking.
Two Steps Forward.
Initially, it might be hard to stop the negative flow of thoughts. This shift takes time. Be patient with yourself, and first just try to observe your thought patterns. See if you can catch yourself judging others, focusing on failures, complaining about work, or criticizing yourself or your body. When you observe these thoughts, take a moment to counter each negative thought with two positive observations or gratitudes. Think of it as taking two steps forward after your one step back.
The mind and the body have an intrinsic connection—each has a profound impact on the other. If you are struggling to move your mind into a more positive perspective, try moving your body there first. Try standing up straight, shoulders back, chin held high, stretching your arms out as wide as they can go. Feel powerful. Feel positive. Carrying yourself with “positive posture” will encourage your mind to feel more positive as well.
Another way for your body to “trick” your mind into being more positive is through smiling. The simple act of smiling, even if you don’t necessarily have anything to smile about, can instantly change the way you feel internally. Whether you are sitting at your desk, driving in your car, or walking down the street, smile. You will be amazed how your mind reacts. Even better, try smiling at a co-worker or stranger you pass in the hallway or on the sidewalk. Did they smile back?
Ditch the Crabs.
If you put a crab in a bucket, it will easily climb out. But if you put a second crab in the bucket, neither of them will escape. Once one starts to escape, the other will pull it back down into the bucket. In other words, surround yourself with positive people. It’s hard to maintain a positive perspective if you are constantly pulled down by the negativity of friends, family, or co-workers. If you get trapped in a negative conversation, gracefully try to change the subject to something more positive. However, if you are surrounded by a bucketful of negative crabs, it may be time to reevaluate your circle of friends in an effort to be surrounded by uplifting individuals.
Do Something Kind.
It’s easy to get absorbed by our own world of misfortune and to forget about the people around us. Stepping outside of your daily routine to help someone else can provide amazing perspective and fill you with positivity. Strive to do one nice thing for someone else each day. Call a family member or friend in need of a kind word, compliment a stranger, go out of your way to help a co-worker complete a task, or join the thousands of caffeinated people “paying it forward” in the Starbucks line.
Life is not always easy, and sometimes we get handed a bushel of lemons. However, it is our own perspective that ultimately determines if we will drudge through life puckered and sour, or skip along with a glass of sweet lemonade.
When recovering from addiction or even when considering getting sober, a positive attitude is a huge asset. For one thing, it’s hard to put much effort into recovery if you don’t think it’s possible. Optimism also enhances the quality of your recovery. Studies have shown that optimism has many benefits , including a more engaged style of coping and less avoidance, more goal-oriented behavior, more resilience, and even better health.
Unfortunately, most people considering entering addiction treatment or just beginning recovery aren’t burdened with an excess of optimism. The decision to seek help typically comes at a personal low point, when they can no longer ignore the seriousness of their substance use issues. What’s more, many people with substance use issues also struggle with co-occurring depression and anxiety disorders, neither of which are conducive to positive thinking.
If that describes you, there is still hope. While some of our optimism is determined by genes and childhood experiences, a lot of it comes down to our thinking and behavior and we can learn to be more optimistic with persistent practice. Here are some tips for seeing the glass as half full.
Change Your View of Optimism
If you’re currently a pessimist, one of the biggest challenges to being more optimistic is that you probably have a mental image of optimists as naive and perhaps slightly irritating people – Pollyannas who are just one good deed away from getting taken for all they have. The reality is a bit more complicated. First, it’s important to realize that we are all, to varying degrees, risk averse because erring on the side of caution helps us survive. However, the reason optimists exist and often thrive is that we need to accept some level of risk to survive and grow. If you are too pessimistic, not only are you exaggerating threats more than average, you’re limiting your opportunities. A more clear-eyed view of optimism is to think of it as seeing the possibilities and the threats and not just the threats.
Accept Challenging Emotions
Another common misconception about optimism or positivity is that it means rarely or never experiencing negative emotions. In reality, that’s impractical. We all feel sad, angry, frustrated, depressed, bored, anxious, afraid, and jealous sometimes. Often these are normal and healthy reactions to common life events. What’s not helpful is to believe these emotions are inherently wrong or bad. When you try to suppress these emotions or criticize yourself for feeling them, you only end up feeling worse. In fact, studies show that people who are most accepting of their emotions tend to have fewer depressive symptoms and less negative affect when under stress. Positivity is not about feeling good all the time but rather about knowing things can get better.
Three Good Things
This is an exercise recommended by positive psychology pioneer Martin Seligman. The idea is simple: each night before you go to bed, write down three things that went well that day and why they went well. This helps shift your attention from the bad things, which we naturally pay more attention to, to things that are going well or that we did well.
Gratitude, like optimism, has been shown to have many benefits, including better health, better sleep, better relationships, greater well-being, and more optimism. There are primarily two ways to cultivate gratitude. The first is similar to the “three good things” exercise above, except that you write down three things you’re grateful for. They can be big things or small things.
The other big gratitude practice is to write a gratitude letter. Think of something someone has done for you that you haven’t adequately thanked them for. Write a letter describing what it was and what it meant to you. Then, you can either deliver the letter in person or not. Researchers at Stanford found that writing gratitude letters helped reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety in participants, even if they didn’t deliver the letter. However, if you do decide to deliver it, it can be a nice little boost for your relationship.
Examine Your Thinking
As noted above, being more optimistic isn’t necessarily a matter of exclusively seeing the positive, but rather enlarging your view to include the positive as well as the negative. Many of our cognitive biases cause us to take an excessively negative view of the world and ourselves. For example, many people are afflicted by the cognitive distortion of catastrophizing, the belief that some outcome will be indescribably awful. For example, your boss criticizes something you did at work, so you instantly assume you’ll get fired and end up homeless. In reality, we don’t really know what will happen, but most of the time, it’s not that bad.
Positivity researchers have identified two particular traits of optimists: when good things happen, they assume they are responsible for them and that good things will continue to happen in the future. When bad things happen, they assume circumstances are to blame and they will fare better under different circumstances. Pessimists are the exact opposite. They see good things as accidents and bad things as the normal state. The truth, of course, lies somewhere in the middle, but it’s certainly to your advantage to think of failures as the result of temporary circumstances.
Keep Positive Company
Finally, a lot of your attitude depends on who you spend time with. If you spend time with positive people, you are more likely to be positive and if you spend time with negative people, you are more likely to be negative. This is one reason a sober network is such a huge asset. A 12-Step meeting is a place you can go regularly and be assured that you will be surrounded by people focused on sobriety.
No one can be positive all the time. Even the most optimistic people who have ever lived have faced setbacks they didn’t know if they could ever overcome. Often, it comes down to a willingness to keep trying. At Enlightened Solutions, we know that recovery is a journey and how it goes depends a lot on your outlook. That’s why we emphasize a holistic approach and a positive environment. To learn more about our programs, explore our website or call us today at 833-801-LIVE.