One dose of happiness.
Most people probably would say they want to be happy or could be happier. Not easily achieved in our stressful, busy lives. But an emotional or psychological desire, happiness is an important ingredient in wellness.
The facts are that happy people can be more productive or effective in their daily work and personal responsibilities.
But can you just choose to be happier? Probably not. It may take applying some strategies which also take some effort.
SMILE: One important ingredient to becoming happier.
Can you think of one of the most paintings of all times that depicts a smile? It’s the Mona Lisa by Leonardo Da Vinci. Her unique smile is captivating.
Scientist Andrew Newburg called the smile, “the symbol that was rated with the highest positive emotional content”. I have often said, “the smile is the least expensive accessory that goes with any outfit.”
While smiling can make you feel better, in and of itself it is not enough. To be most effective, you have think more positively.
You can likely identify a fake smile and may have even sported one on occasion. However, there have been studies that found a fake smile can worsen a person’s mood and, actually, negatively affects productivity. On the other hand, smiling as a result of positive thinking, can improve a person’s mood.
How do you recognize a person who is genuinely smiling? One of the ways is to look at the person’s eyes. It’s almost as though their eyes light up, they may even narrow slightly as their cheeks are engaged in the full smile.
Smiling can also improve your attention and help you perform better on cognitive tasks.
Dr, Hunter “Patch” Adams, found that humor and laughter played an important role in reducing pain in challenging times.
What is the effect of smiling on our brains?
When you encounter a situation that prompts the feeling to smile, there are neural signals that travel from your brain’s cortex to your brainstem. These signals continue to the cranial nerves which carry the signal that engage your facial smiling muscles. Once you smile, there is a positive feedback loop that goes back to your brain which reinforces your feeling of joy.
It has been said that:
“Smiling stimulates our brain’s reward mechanisms in a way that even chocolate, a well-regarded pleasure-inducer, cannot match.”
Smiling can give you the same positive feelings you get from exercise. It releases endorphins that alleviate pain, lower stress, improves mood, and enhances your sense of wellbeing.
What is one of the major killers in the U.S. that can be affected by Smiling?
Heart disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is one of the top killers in the U.S. It is the leading cause of death for men, women, and people of most racial and ethnic groups in the United States. In the United States, one person dies every 33 seconds from cardiovascular disease. About 695,000 people in the United States died from heart disease in 2021—that's 1 in every 5 deaths https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cardiovascular_disease
Heart disease, also known as cardiovascular disease, comes in many forms: coronary artery disease, heart rhythm problems also known as arrhythmias, congenital heart defects, etc. As opposed to much of the conventional thinking that cardiovascular disease is almost a foregone conclusion with the aging process, most forms of cardiovascular disease can be prevented, and even treated with healthier lifestyle choices. In fact, scientists estimate that half of the deaths due to cardiovascular disease can be prevented, and upwards of 80% of the instances of heart disease are preventable.
Besides rattling off the healthy lifestyle choices which can contribute to a healthier heart: (I.e., movement, eating choices, sleep), positive thinking is as important ingredient as each of the above.
I’m sure you’ve heard of the power of positive thinking. The fact is that it has tremendous power. More power than you probably realize. Evidence- based research has found that an optimistic outlook, cheerful disposition, and a grateful state of mind can protect the heart from disease.
You may be thinking, “Can positive thinking make that much of a difference in my health and wellbeing?” The answer is a resounding YES!!!
One study published in JAMA Network Open analyzed data from 15 studies comprising 229,391 patients. It found that people who had a positive outlook enjoyed a 35% reduction in cardiovascular events and an 18% reduction in early death when compared to those with a pessimistic outlook.
A study in the U.K. that collected data from over 8,000 people found that people who were the most optimistic had the greatest sense of well-being and experienced a 30% lower risk of developing heart disease.
The U.S Health and Retirement Study found that optimism decreased the risk of having a heart attack by 38%. Specifically, those with a positive outlook had a 32% lower risk.
In three different studies with hundreds of patients comparing positive thinking and heart health, even those who had serious complications from heart disease improved their health when they embraced a positive outlook. After a coronary bypass or stenting, for example, those who were the most optimistic had a lower risk of hospitalization after the procedure.
Why Is Positive Thinking So Healing for the Heart?
People who have a more negative outlook tend to feel more stress, and as we know, stress releases hormones that cause us to have a physiological response, that is, it raises heart rate and blood pressure.
Conversely, studies show that people who think more positively experience less stress, averting the negative impact on their cardiovascular system. The person who is thinking and feeling more positively is also more likely to find healthier strategies to cope with stressful and challenging situations. Of course, that doesn’t mean if you have a more positive outlook, you’ll never reach for less-than-optimal eating or drinking-choices when feeling stressed, hence the name comfort foods or the proverbial drink or glass of wine.
Contrary to what some people think, positive thinking is not a personality trait. It’s a skill but it may take some effort and practice for you develop a more positive mindset, be a more positive thinker or have a more positive outlook. There is an expression that like attracts like and, therefore, positivity attracts more positivity. Therefore, people with a more positive outlook, attract more positive situations in their lives. Or at least, view them through a different lens. This may be sound simple, but as we all know, not always easy to accomplish. It's not being polyannish, it has to be a genuine outlook.
It literally means shifting your brain to think differently. Here are a few tips:
Be more mindful
Have more self-compassion
Release negative thoughts
Finally, an important reminder:
Though a positive outlook is an important ingredient in the recipe for heart health and overall wellbeing, it is only one ingredient.
If you want to learn more about the recipe ingredients for your heart and overall health, in order to create your Longevity Wellness Action Plan email: email@example.com
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