Mindset Matters: Seniors With Positive Attitudes Live Better (and You Can Too)

You may have heard, nothing beats a positive attitude. Sure, this sounds cliché, but research shows there is actually some merit to the idea.

A positive attitude can’t fix everything. But a sunny disposition can certainly impact your life. One Johns Hopkins study found that, from a group of participants with a family history of cardiovascular disease, those who consistently practiced positive thinking were one-third less likely to have a heart attack.

Positivity becomes even more important as you deal with complicated health problems and financial issues—but this way of life also might come easier. Research also shows that seniors are more likely to see the bright side of their situation as they age.

What is positive thinking?

First, let’s ask: what exactly do we mean by positive thinking? Essentially, positive thinking means focusing on the good in a situation. Give yourself permission to imagine a world where everything works out, spending time appreciating what’s going well in your life, and building up your strengths.

A gratitude journal is one of the most popular forms of positive thinking. Sometimes, you get caught up with what isn’t going right. You end up thinking your whole life is on the downswing. A gratitude journal can bring you back from the brink.

Meditating on what you’re grateful for or feel positive about also makes a massive difference in creating a positive attitude. The good news? You don’t have to have a history of practicing meditation. Start by taking a few minutes to breathe deeply and visualize whatever you’re thankful for. Then let yourself feel the gratitude.

Finding balance with positivity 

Of course, no matter how positive we are, there are still real problems demanding real solutions. Don’t fall into the trap of using positive thinking to ignore the problems in your life or respond with only positivity when a friend needs validation and support during a hard time.

If you’re having trouble seeing the good in a difficult situation, you aren’t doing it wrong! Sometimes, a difficult situation is just, well, difficult. Shaming yourself for not feeling positive won’t help.

Positivity is just one piece of a larger puzzle. When you expand your attitude into a more positive space, you can focus more on the possibilities. Then, set realistic ambitions and take practical steps to improve your life. Positive thinking isn’t a replacement for an action plan. It’s simply part of creating an action plan you really believe in.

What are the benefits of positive thinking?  

So what are the benefits of keeping your mindset positive? First, you might just feel better—an excellent result in and of itself. But there are also proven health benefits of a positive outlook. These include

  • lower risk of heart disease and heart attack,
  • better immune function,
  • better attention and memory,
  • lower blood pressure,
  • higher pain tolerance,
  • better coping skills,
  • more creativity,
  • lower risk of depression and anxiety,
  • improved self-esteem,
  • improved symptoms of menopause,
  • decreased inflammation, and
  • longer life span.

 For a habit starting with just a few minutes a day of keeping a journal and meditating, those are some serious benefits!

 Positive thinking can also have the best kind of snowball effect. As you start feeling better, you’ll want to invest in the activities responsible for those good feelings. Many seniors have increased motivation to embrace the habits that bring joy, groundedness, and appreciation to their lives as those practices pay off.


image credit: shutterstock/marekuliasz