If you’re more of a pessimistic Eeyore than an optimistic Winnie The Pooh-type, don’t worry. Optimism can be learned, just like any new skill or hobby. That’s according to Dr. John Tauer, a professor of psychology. His favorite fake-it-til-you-make-it trick? Force a smile when you’re feeling sad or angry. We have special 'smile muscles' – and those muscles send a message to your brain that you're happy – and your brain will believe it! Even holding a pencil between your teeth works to activate the chemicals in your brain that register happiness.
Need more motivation to think positively? Here’s what an optimistic attitude can do for you:
- You won’t get sick as often. People who expect good things to happen have stronger immune systems. That’s because when you feel optimistic, immunity-boosting hormones get activated.
- Optimistic people are also less likely to have a stroke: Optimism is associated with a slower buildup of plaque in your arteries that can lead to a stroke. And a University of Michigan study found that the more positive people were, the lower their odds of having a stroke.
- You’ll make better decisions. Negative emotions can lead to tunnel vision – you focus on only the problem. But people who are more positive focus on the big picture. They’re more flexible, roll-with-the-punches people. So, they have an easier time thinking their way out of problems, seeing solutions – or even seeing the silver lining.
What are your tricks to get you out of a funk? How do you put yourself in a more positive frame of mind?