The idea of using “positivity practices” can sound a little cheesy.
Are you just putting on an unwarranted happy face? Or could seeing the glass as half full actually make a meaningful difference when it comes to your health and happiness?
Thankfully, science is increasingly providing us with some exciting (and easily actionable) answers.
First off, research shows positive thinking comes with very real benefits. One study found people with a family history of heart disease who had a positive outlook were a third less likely to have a heart attack than their gloomier counterparts. Others have shown that older people with a positive view of aging actually end up living longer (which is a good excuse to make every birthday celebration a blowout, right?).
Here’s the news you can use, now: According to the New York Times, Northwestern University professor Judith T. Moskowitz developed a set of eight skills that lead to more positive thinking.
Her research team found that people with new diagnoses of HIV who practiced these skills were more able to cope with the illness and even carried a lower load of the virus (mind-body connection, guys!). In another study, 15 months after a diagnosis, those who used the skills maintained a more positive outlook than those who didn’t. Other studies have shown patients with diabetes and patients with advanced breast cancer had lower rates of depression after learning similar positivity practices online.
While there aren’t large scale studies on how these skills fare in terms of helping healthy people maintain a sunny outlook, they’ve got a pretty good track record so far, so you may want to start working these into your routine, stat.
8 Positivity Practices for Better Health
1. Recognize a positive event each day.
2. Savor that event and log it in a journal or tell someone about it.
3. Start a daily gratitude journal.
4. List a personal strength and note how you used it.
5. Set an attainable goal and note your progress.
6. Report a relatively minor stress and list ways to reappraise the event positively.
7. Recognize and practice small acts of kindness daily.
8. Practice mindfulness, focusing on the here and now rather than the past or future.