How to Live Longer: Put on a Happy Face!

how to live longerWe often tell those who aren’t feeling well to “cheer up” or “feel better soon!” Those words of encouragement can be more helpful than you know, as they may do more than raise spirits; if heeded, they can help turn your thoughts to the sunny side, and may actually improve your health and extend your life!

We all want to learn how to live longer and better lives, and it’s no secret that our minds can influence our bodies. However, there is new research that shows that not only do positive thoughts influence our health, but we can even train ourselves to think more positively, thereby improving health outcomes.

A study done by the American Heart Association looked at 607 participants and found that those with more positive moods were 58% more likely to live at least five years following a similar cardiac episode. They also discovered that patients with sunnier moods were more likely to exercise, leading to improved prognosis and psychological wellbeing.

If a happier mood can help prolong life, then surely there is something to the fact that being happy can reduce stress, lower blood pressure, reduce heart disease, control weight and improve energy. And since a happy mood appears to be something that can “rub off” on us, or can be a learned skill, the Arizona home health care team at Nightingale Homecare thought it might be nice to focus on ways to help get us thinking more positive and thereby improve quality of life, or even extend it!

Judith T. Moskowitz, who is a professor of medical social sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, was inspired by observations that people with AIDS, type 2 diabetes and other chronic illnesses lived longer if they demonstrated positive emotions. She then developed this set of eight skills to help foster positive emotions. Participants are encouraged to learn at least three of the eight skills and practice one or more each day. The eight skills are:

  • Recognize a positive event each day.
  • Savor that event and log it in a journal or tell someone about it.
  • Start a daily gratitude journal.
  • List a personal strength and note how you used it.
  • Set an attainable goal and note your progress.
  • Report a relatively minor stress and list ways to reappraise the event positively.
  • Recognize and practice small acts of kindness daily.
  • Practice mindfulness, focusing on the here and now rather than the past or future.

If you have some free time on your hands, it has been found that helping others also helps improve mood! Volunteering is a great way to give back and feel happy. Just remember to practice your happiness every day. It’s a positive cycle: The more you do it, the easier it gets!

Nightingale Homecare, top providers of Arizona home health care, is on hand to help brighten each day for seniors with friendly companionship, assistance with tasks around the home, transportation to fun outings, and so much more. Call us any time at (602) 504-1555 to get started!