Women over 60 are entering a new chapter of life. We have lived and loved and recovered from heartbreak and loss, we have strived in the career arena and tended the home fires and (often) nurtured children and cared for aging parents of our own. And as we get older, because of all that we have experienced and surmounted during our lives, many women over 60 find themselves feeling more optimistic about life than ever before.
But even if you are not a naturally “glass is half full” personality, there is a lot of evidence that learning to think positively about our everyday challenges can help us live longer, healthier and happier along the way.
Here are three reasons why it’s especially important for women over 60 to embrace the power of positive thinking:
People who think positively about their own aging process tend to live longer. According to a study in Ohio, U.S.A., people with a more positive view of their own life as they got older tended to live an average of 7.6 years longer than people who had more negative views. This is a sign that as we get older, we as a society need to get better at embracing the positive aspects of aging and not dwelling on negative stereotypes.
If people believe that aging is merely a process of decline, decrepitude, loneliness and loss, they will be less likely to enter these years with a positive attitude.
On the other hand, if people understand all of the joys and wonders that are part of this stage of life – the sense of wholeness, fulfillment, the sense of sharing what we’ve learned, the sense of being of service and making a difference to others and being true lifelong learners and having fun every day at every age – then perhaps more people will live longer and healthier lives.
In another study, older adults who had suffered a disability (such as a stroke, accident or bad fall) tended to recover faster from their ailments if they had a more positive attitude about aging. This makes intuitive sense – after all, if people feel good about their lives, they’ll be more likely to want to recover and get back to optimum physical health. People often recover their fighting spirit when they have something to live for.
Another study found that older adults are more likely to keep up with a regular exercise routine and get more physical activity if they have an overall positive attitude toward life and toward physical activity. If you have a “can-do” spirit, you’ll be more likely to get to the gym, try new sports and activities such as strength training, and generally take good care of your body and mind.
Positive thinking can be a powerful self-reinforcing cycle of helping us maintain better overall health – if we feel good about our lives and ourselves, we’re more likely to do all of the little things we need to do to help stay healthy, strong and active for as long as we live.
What do you think about the links between positive thinking and positive health outcomes? Have you experienced the power of positive thinking? What do you do to maintain a positive attitude in your life? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
Want more tips on how to be happy and more positive? Watch my interview with Gretchen Rubin.