You have probably noticed that your immune system tends to get weaker when you go through a period of depression, sadness or stress, and that it seems to function better when you are feeling happier. Could our thoughts and attitudes really have that much power over our bodies?
Optimism reinforces our immune defenses
According to renowned psychologist and psychotherapist Anne Ancelin Schützenberger, smiley, optimistic people suffer fewer illnesses and visit doctors less often in their lifetimes than more pessimistic individuals.
Optimism is a state of mind more than a personality trait, even if certain people are more naturally optimistic or pessimistic than others. Emotions, positive and negative, have physical or physiological effects on our bodies.
If a person lives in a permanent state of stress, their bodies can react by producing more steroids than usual, which weakens their immune systems. This is why pessimistic or negative people tend to get sick often.
Even when they are suffering physically or mentally, optimists generally manage to see the bright side of every situation. This has an effect on their body, to the extent that they experience faster healing times.
Thus, positive emotions are effective natural remedies that we all need, to prevent ailments and illnesses. According to the famed psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud, pessimism makes us sick, and optimism is an illusion that helps us to survive.
Recommendations for becoming more optimistic
You already know the health benefits of optimism and of positive feelings and emotions, so here are a few recommendations to help you learn to become more optimistic:
- Become aware of how you are thinking
Nobody can be permanently happy, but try to focus on helpful and positive emotions and thoughts, rather than brooding on negative thoughts that provoke anger, sadness or worry.
- Appreciate what you have
Instead of thinking about negative things, analyse all the things in your life that are going well, and the good things happening around you. For example, remind yourself to be grateful for your family, your home, having a job, good health, friends, food, etc.
Smile and laugh as much as you possibly can. Say hello with a smile, laugh with your colleagues, force yourself to smile if you must, watch funny movies, remind yourself of amusing memories, any excuse is a good excuse!