26 Dec Happiness and positive thinking…good for you and good for your health
Happiness and a sunny disposition doesn’t necessarily make you a ridiculously optimistic Pollyanna, even in these tough times, say advocates of positive psychology. What they’re talking about is leading a positive, purposeful life, and experts on the subject point to increasing scientific evidence backing the health benefits of hopefulness, happiness and optimism.
“Many people probably go through life feeling they don’t have a major purpose, like, say, Mother Theresa. _ã_ But this is not about charity and changing the world,” says Sharon Whitely, chief executive of the wellness site www.ThirdAge.com. “It’s much more personal.”
For some, the boost comes from volunteering or from reaching a personal goal. Others find their purpose through social activities or spiritual faith. Regardless, researchers are finding a health connection that comes from being happy with the present and optimistic about the future.
Much of the positive psychology research targets brain function among the aging. The Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center in Chicago, which led one of the largest recent studies, found that over a five-year period, people with a sense of high purpose were about half as likely to die as those who had a diminished sense of self-worth.
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