For 2017

"Life is lived forward, but understood backward. It is not until we are down the road and we stand on the mountain looking back through the valley that we can appreciate the terrain God has allowed us to scale.” Jill Savage

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Redbook


Taken From Redbook Magazine - April 2009
Act Like an Optimist, Improve Your Health
Either way you see it, here's the whole story on optimism and your health.
By Marguerite Lamb

Act Like an Optimist, Improve Your Health - Page 3

"Special Offer Imagine the worst.
That's right — a little pessimism might just enhance your optimism. Behaving more optimistically doesn't mean never entertaining another pessimistic thought. In fact, you should anticipate and prepare for setbacks, says Julie K. Norem, Ph.D., a psychology professor at Wellesley College in Massachusetts and the author of The Positive Power of Negative Thinking. Her studies show that when pessimists try to replace their usual worrying with things like positive imagery or progressive muscle relaxation, their stress actually escalates and their performance tanks. "Pessimists need to be allowed to worry," Norem says, "but they need to learn to do it in a very specific way." Vague fears — What if everything falls apart? — don't lend themselves to practical solutions, so they only spur anxiety, Norem explains. Instead, you need to think in concrete detail about what could go wrong and decide how you'll deal if it does. While dwelling on potential pitfalls might seem decidedly unoptimistic, studies show that, especially if you're a worrier, mentally rehearsing how you'll respond to roadblocks can reduce your anxiety, by making you feel prepared to cope with whatever comes.

Say, for example, you're considering buying your first home, but the pessimist in you says, In these uncertain times — are you crazy?! Instead of abandoning the idea, ask yourself, What specifically am I worried about? Your answers may include: I could lose my job or get into a horrible car accident and be unable to make the payments. Plus, I'm not handy — what if the toilet breaks? Worse, what if the roof caves in — how will I afford to fix it? Now take a breath and counter each concern: To quell worries about paying the mortgage, you might stash the equivalent of three monthly payments in a separate account as a cushion and consider purchasing mortgage protection insurance; to ease concerns about having to call a repairman for every loose screw, you could ask the handiest guy (or gal) you know to show you a few plumbing and carpentry basics (leave electrical work to the professionals!). You might still decide that now isn't the time for you to buy, but you'll be basing that decision on research and reality, not overblown fears.

"Once you break down this big, amorphous, anxiety-producing problem into specific, smaller pieces, the pieces themselves seem much more manageable — and tend to lend themselves to tangible solutions," Norem says. Research shows that naysayers who use this sort of "defensive pessimism," as Norem calls it, are significantly more likely than other pessimists, and perhaps even more likely than optimists, to persist toward their goals. Best of all, says Norem, "Defensive pessimism may enable you to cope effectively and reduce your anxiety without having to change your whole personality."

Put it in writing.
In a Canadian study, chronically stressed caregivers (responsible for a loved one with dementia) who used journals to write optimistically about their situations experienced less anxiety and insomnia than caregivers who wrote in less optimistic terms. Interestingly, it didn't seem to matter whether the caregivers actually felt optimistic — simply using the right words lowered their stress. So which words made the difference? Writers who used positive emotion words (love, nice, sweet) and optimistic words (certainty, pride, win) fared better mentally, as did those who used future tense (will, going to). Conversely, excessive use of first-person singular words (I, me, mine) in writing has previously been tied to depression, as have negative emotion words (hurt, worried, fearful, nervous).

Intriguing, you say, but what does it mean for you? If you're feeling pessimistic about a situation, try writing about it in intentionally optimistic terms. Not the journal-keeping kind? Try this exercise: Quickly brainstorm a list of 20 positive words and another of 20 negative words. For the next week, challenge yourself to notice whenever you think or write a word from your negative list, then strike it and replace it with a word from your positive vocabulary. Hey, it can't hurt to try! At the very least, it might make you realize how pessimistic you really are. At best, you'll begin to think and see the world in a more optimistic way. You'll realize that just by shifting your mind-set and your behavior a bit, you can live life on the sunnier side of the street — and that you may even like it better that way.

(Last day - I promise just thought it was a great article). . .
Chatty

2 comments:

ClassyChassy said...

I've used some of those suggestions in the past - and they DO WORK! Great way to start your day - do it with PESSIMISM!!!

^..^Corgidogmama said...

I see the wisdom in this piece.
Love your new blog additions.