Practice the Art of Spinning

When you discovered you had high cholesterol, how did you react? Did you panic and begin picturing your own death from a heart attack? Or did you take a deep breath and view the diagnosis not as terrible news but as a kick in the pants to finally make some healthful lifestyle changes? If it’s the latter, congratulations—you’re a positive person, able to take potentially negative experiences and put a positive spin on them. If it’s the former, well then, you’re like all too many Americans these days … focusing more on the doom and gloom.

If you tend to view the glass as half empty, don’t despair. A growing movement called “positive psychology” is identifying ways that even the most negative-minded people can reframe, or spin, their outlooks on events. Remember, it’s not a stressful

event that is detrimental to your heart, it’s your Learning to think reaction to it. So learning to think positively e may be one of the best things you can do to positively may be lower your heart disease risk. Numerous one of the best studies find that optimistic people get fewer : illnesses and recover better from coronary things you can do bypass surgery and cancer, Optimism may to lower your heart even protect older men against heart disease, according to one sturly.

Learning to think positively may be one of the best things you can do to lower your heart disease risk.

Of course, optimism is not a new concept; even Virgil wrote of it in the Aeneid 2,000 years ago when he penned: “They can because they think they can.” That can be a difficult outlook to maintain in today’s stressful, complicated world. But a little practice goes a long way. The next time an event or situation starts to raise your ire or your anxiety level, keep in mind the following tips:

Don’t take it personally. Rather than viewing setbacks as signs of their own incompetence, optimists view them as flukes or signals that a new approach is needed.Take a tax audit, for example, Instead of whining about how it’s just one more example of his lousy luck, an optimist would view it as a good opportunity to put his financial affairs in order, perhaps even winding up with some money back as errors in his favor are discovered. This doesn’t mean, however, that you never accept blame for something that is your fault. But if you’re an optimist, you accept the blame, learn from your mistake, and move on. rather than dwelling on the experience.

Maintain realistic expectations. There’s no greater path to disappointment and frustration than setting your expectations too high. So if you expect that the cruise youre taking to the islands will be entirely trouble-free for the whole nine days, that every person you meet will become a new best friend, and that you definitely won’t exceed the tight budget you have in mind, you’re probably setting yourself up for some disappointment. Instead, stroll or board with the understanding that things may not go exactly according to plan, but a cruise in the sunshine in February still beats sloshing through the snow at home

Worry concretely. Just because you’re trving to have a positive attitude doesn’t mean you don’t have worries. The key is how you handle those worries. Write them down, talk about them with a friend, and put them into form and shape, as in, “I’m rried that my husband will lose his job because his plant is having layoffs,” rather th an suffering with an amorphous sense of financial doom. Worrying about something specific is less consuming and less damaging than general anxiety. Anxiety that’s unfocused can lead to less logical, less effective responses,

Act happy. “We can act ourselves into a frame of mind.” says David Myers, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at Hope College (yes, Hope College) in Holland, Michigan. “Manipulated into a smiling expression, people feel better; when they scowl, the whole world seems to scowl back.” So as the song goes, put on a happy face. Talk as if you feel positive, outgoing, and optimistic, Going through the motions often can help trigger the emotions.

Understand that enduring happiness doesn’t come from wealth. It’s one of the great myths of our time: Being rich, famous, or powerful automatically makes you happy. In fact, there are those who would argue the opposite, that too many people at the higher rungs of success have lost their perspective, their humanity, their values— and thus, their happiness. Doubtful? Listen to this: Studies find that everyday people who win the lottery are no happier a year later than they were before they won. The lesson: Tend to the things that make you happy and don’t use other people’s measures to define yourself,

Take control of your time. Happy people feel in control of their lives. They learn how to say no to activities they either don’t want to do or don’t have the time to do.

Reframe your perceptions. If you’re faced with 20 guests for Thanksgiving dinner (tomorrow) and your dishwasher just broke, instead of panicking about having to wash dozens of dishes, consider it a good excuse to use faney paper plates—and not wash any dishes at all.

Learn to forgive. Studies find that simply letting go of a grudge has numerous health benefits, In one study researchers found that people showed more signs of stress, including higher blood pressure and a faster heart rate, when they reflected on hurtful memories and grudges than when they imagined granting forgiveness to real-life offenders. In addition to the physical benefits of forgiveness, the act has emotional benefits. Once people truly forgive those who have hurt them, they often speak of feeling a weight lifted, feeling “lighter” and at peace. In one study people who attended a six-week forgiveness program were significantly more optimistic and willing to use forgiveness as a coping strategy months alter the training ended than people who had been randomly assigned to a control group.

Read a book. Stress is a big issue for our society, and many savvy doctors, therapists, and spiritual leaders have written books on the topic. There are books that offer daily motivations, 12-week “happiness” programs, tips and advice, or merely reassurance. There are books on coping with grief, depression, lousy bosses, bad marriages, financial problems, and challenging kids. Rest assured that if you go into a bookstore, you’ll probably find a book that speaks to whatever problem is causing you stress. Buying it could be an excellent invesiment m your well-being.

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