September 2006

Half Empty or Half Full?


Heart Health May Depend on the Answer

According to a study published in Psychosomatic Medicine, people who blame themselves for bad events and believe that things will never change are more likely to develop heart disease than those who look on the bright side. Here’s what you can do to foster a positive attitude:

Laugh. Laughter releases tension and combats negative feelings. Next time you’re feeling down about everything, rent a funny movie, read the comics or call a humorous friend.

Move on. Pessimists often let frustrations become larger than they really are. If you’re still stewing over missing the bus last night, making a mistake at work or not losing five pounds, make a conscious effort to move on. It may help to write a list of the day’s or night’s problems just before you go to bed. As you put aside your list, picture yourself putting aside your negative feelings, too. Each time you wake up, imagine yourself starting with a clean slate.

Control what you can. A pessimistic attitude makes it easy to lump big problems that are out of your control (“This storm might make me have to change my weekend plans.”) in with the smaller ones that you can do something about (“I’m upset about that argument with my sister last week.”). Separate what’s bothering you into two groups — situations that are beyond your control and the problems you can solve. Resolve to tackle one problem in the solvable group each month.

When in doubt, smile. Even if you are feeling negative and down on yourself, if you make an effort to smile, your attitude just might follow the corners of your mouth … upward. This small effort can have big heart benefits.

Copyright 2002,
Oakstone Wellness Publishing

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