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Why Being Positive Is Good for Your Health

Keeping a glass-half full attitude can have numerous health benefits to your mind and body. Try these 4 tips to work toward a healthier outlook on life.

Mom getting kissed on the cheek by her children, being positive is good for your health

According to a study by Johns Hopkins, positive thinking can actually save your life. The study showed that those with a family history of heart disease and many other high-risk factors were 13% less likely to have a heart attack if they were positive thinkers.

Why is this? Scientists don’t completely know. It could be because those who are optimistic make better long-term life decisions (including healthy choices), or it could be that studies have linked negativity to a weaker immune system.

Healthier hearts aren’t the only benefit of having a glass half-full attitude. Keeping a positive outlook provides these benefits:

  • Increases your lifespan
  • Improves your immunity against colds
  • Creates a healthier mental state
  • Lowers your risk of depression and distress
  • Gives you better coping skills during stressful times

Related: Living in the Now--Being Present

So if you’re a pessimist, are you doomed? Nope! Luckily, you can learn to become a positive thinker.

Start with these four simple steps:

Smile more often

It sounds too simple to be true, but one study found that even faux-smiling can relieve your stress in intense situations. Try forcing a smile more often and feel your nerves loosen. 

Identify your thoughts

If your automatic response is negative thinking, you probably don’t even notice it. Start by identifying whether each thought is positive or negative. Once you can identify those, learn to switch that thought to a positive one. This doesn’t mean you have to ignore everything bad, but it does mean you might need to learn to narrate the story you are living a little differently.

Once you’ve started switching those negative thoughts, it will become more natural. Eventually, you won’t have to always be thinking about making the switch.

Related: Reasons Why You Should Meditate 

Try journaling

It might be random, but there are certain habits that studies link to enhancing positive emotions. Journaling is one—particularly if you are writing a gratitude journal every day. “Life doesn’t have to be perfect to be wonderful. And wonderful comes from recognizing just one good thing each day,” says Terri Flint, Director of Employee Wellness at Intermountain Healthcare.

Meditation will also help increase those positive feelings. Develop a habit of doing either (or both) of these things every day, and voila! You’ll be well on your way to a happier outlook on life. 

Change your negative self-talk

It would be nearly impossible to never think something bad about yourself. The key is to stop beating yourself up about your flaws and look at it as an opportunity to change instead. If you hate that you tend to lose your temper more than you should, acknowledge that it’s a problem and decide that for a full week you’re going to count to ten (or twenty) before you react to a triggering situation.

Learning to think positively doesn’t come naturally to most of us, but with a few small steps you may experience the great health benefits that come from positive thinking.    

While you're here, check out other articles on healthy living. For information on our medical and dental plans, visit selecthealth.org/plans.   


SelectHealth may link to other websites for your convenience. SelectHealth does not expressly or implicitly recommend or endorse the views, opinions, specific services, or products referenced at other websites linked to the SelectHealth site, unless explicitly stated.

The content presented here is for your information only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, and it should not be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. Please consult your healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns.

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Amberlee Lovell Peterson
Amberlee is a content manager, freelance writer, and designer. She is currently working on launching her own podcast and loves baby foxes.