What is the secret to aging well? There is no magic bullet, but we do see a major theme – being positive. It’s holding onto a certain optimism that things aren’t so bad. Remember things could be worse. When feeling down, try to bring back the joy in your lives by identifying what used to give you pleasure and tap into that. This is the stuff worth living for.
We read an article in The New York Times* about how positive emotions may extend life. The article specifically mentioned the work of Dr. Judith T. Moskowitz, a professor of medical social sciences at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, who developed a set of eight skills to help foster positive emotions.
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.
Also encouraging are studies that suggest people can learn new skills that help them experience more positive emotions when faced with the severe stress of a life-threatening illness. “A good outlook is linked to lower blood pressure, less heart disease, better weight control and healthier sugar levels.” So, what’s the takeaway? It’s never too late to make a change in one’s outlook. What do you have to lose? Nothing. It’s all that you have to gain.
*Source: New York Times, March 28, 2017, page D5. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/27/well/live/positive-thinking-may-improve-health-and-extend-life.html