The Power of Positive Thinking
Are you a Negative Nellie? Do you look at a glass as being half empty instead of half full? Do you choose to dwell on things you cannot control rather than focusing on the good? Whether you realize it or not, YOUR frame of mind impacts others. People who tend to be “glass half full” types of people tend to draw like-minded people. That positive attitude radiates and attracts others. On the other hand, people tend to avoid toxic personalities — the types of people who are energy drainers. In all honesty, those who dwell on negativity really aren’t that fun to be around.
Being an optimist or a pessimist affects more than just your social relationships.
According to the Mayo Clinic, researchers have been able to determine that optimists may enjoy several different health benefits. Here are just a few:
- Less likely to experience depression
- Lower rates of cardiovascular disease
- Longer life span
- Increased resistance to viruses such as the common cold
- More likely to be in better physical and mental health
- Better able to cope with the times when life “gives you lemons”
Why is this? Is it just a fluke or is there science behind this?
There was a wonderful article in The Atlantic concerning this very topic. There are over three thousand published papers citing groundbreaking research from 1985 done by psychologists Michael F. Scheier and Charles S. Carver. What did their research tell them?
“We also know why optimists do better than pessimists. The answer lies in the differences between the coping strategies they use. Optimists are not simply being Pollyannas; they’re problem solvers who try to improve the situation. And if it can’t be altered, they’re also more likely than pessimists to accept that reality and move on. Physically, they’re more likely to engage in behaviors that help protect against disease and promote recovery from illness. They’re less likely to smoke, drink, and have poor diets, and more likely to exercise, sleep well, and adhere to rehab programs. Pessimists, on the other hand, tend to deny, avoid, and distort the problems they confront, and dwell on their negative feelings. It’s easy to see now why pessimists don’t do so well compared to optimists.”
In the Netherlands, there was a cardiovascular health study conducted over nine years revealing that negative people die sooner than their optimistic counterparts — not just of heart issues, but in general. Being a pessimist may also increase the chances of suffering from dementia later in life.
So what can you do if you are a pessimist?
1. Start with gratitude. If you sit down and think about all of the amazing things in your life that you feel grateful for, it may help put things into perspective. Perhaps that will help you get into the frame of mind that you are a LUCKY person.
2. Establish healthy rituals. Good habits — whether it’s meditation, daily yoga, or going for a morning run — are stress relievers linked directly to better coping skills and reduced anxiety.
3. Eliminate negative self-talk. Don’t self sabotage! Think about your inner dialogue. Are you respecting yourself or putting yourself down? No one is perfect, so do not be so hard on yourself. There is an expression “You can’t have a positive life with a negative mind” and I firmly believe this to be true. Be more conscious of the way you speak to yourself.
How can aromatherapy help you be a glass half full type of person?
There has been some very promising scientific research on the relationship between essential oils and mood. Perhaps the most cited study is one published in the International Journal of Neuroscience back in 1998 which showed how certain essential oils promote mental alertness and relaxation.
According to the National Cancer Institute, there are mood-boosting benefits of aromatherapy. According to the NCI, studies "show sedative and stimulant effects of specific essential oils as well as positive effects on behavior and the immune system... Functional imaging studies in humans support the influence of odors on the limbic system and its emotional pathways."
Beneficial Blend: On the Bright Side
- Grapefruit induces feelings of hope and positivity.
- Rosemary helps to clear the mind.
- Peppermint is naturally uplifting and refreshing.
Diego, M., Jones, N.A., Field, T., Hernandez-Reif, M., Schanberg, S., Kuhn, C., McAdam, V., Galamaga, R. & Galamaga, M.(1998). Aromatherapy positively affects mood, EEG patterns of alertness and math computations. International Journal of Neuroscience, 96, 217-224.
Buckle, J. (2007). Literature review: should nursing take aromatherapy more seriously? British Journal of Nursing, 16(2), 116-120.
Edris, A. (2007). Pharmaceutical and therapeutic potentials of essential oils and their individual volatile constituents: A review. Phytotherapy Research, 21, 308-323.
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