Smile! Optimism is good for your health

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Shutterstock.com/ Jacob Lund

People call it many things: joy, exhilaration, assurance, confidence, good cheer. It all falls under optimism: the tendency to look for and expect the best outcome. Choosing to live with an attitude of optimism can significantly affect your physical and mental health. Let’s look at a few ways being optimistic can help transform your day to day living.

According to some psychological studies, people who are optimists generally live longer and enjoy healthier lives. For instance, joy has been known to improve blood pressure positively. Think about it. If you’re more of a pessimist (someone who always looks for bad things to happen), more than likely, you’re stressed. We are all familiar with the effects of stress on our bodies and our minds.

Think about your workplace. How much of a difference could it make if all your co-workers were optimists? What would change? More importantly, at the end of the day, how much better would you feel? Stress-related health issues brought on from work are rising at an alarming rate around the world, including heart disease and high blood pressure. Where’s a comfortable place to start? Glad you asked.

“Turning that frown upside down” is a well known saying. But do you know the effect a smile can have on mental health? Yes, a smile. Let’s say you’re having a challenging day. Instead of living in that moment of despair, try smiling. This one simple act helps to kick those neuro messages into high gear, telling your brain you’re happy, and in turn, your brain begins to release those natural mood boosters serotonin and dopamine.

Here’s one you’re going to love. Smiling can help you look and feel younger. The very muscles utilized when smiling act as a natural facelift (the trick is to smile often to keep that youthful glow). Seriously though, how hard is it to smile and remain upset or sad? Almost impossible. And of course, smiling leads us to laughter.

If you want to become more of an optimist, you’ve got to laugh every single day. Did you know that laughter can affect things such as sleeping, blood flow, and even boosting of the immune system? We all have our share of tribulations, but in those moments where we can laugh at ourselves, do it. Are you having a bad day? Try to recall a funny moment you shared with a loved one and try a light-hearted giggle and see if you don’t feel just a tinge better.

Living life as an optimist is easier for some than others. That doesn’t mean you can’t do it. Not only will being an optimist affect your life but possibly the lives of those around you as well. Family and friends will notice the difference. Co-workers or bosses may take notice. It’s worth a shot and you won’t lose a thing by trying. Remember, laughing is contagious. A laugh a day keeps the gremlins away!