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POWER OF POSITIVE THINKING :: What does it mean to have a “positive attitude”? The image of a bubbly, fun-loving individual may spring to mind. But such an outgoing, social person may be inclined to engage in riskier behaviors that cause injury and poor health.
Instead, there are several features of a positive attitude that research has found to be associated with healthier aging. If you have a positive attitude, you see relatively few of life’s challenges as overwhelming. You feel in control most of the time. You believe you can strongly influence, if not completely determine, your health. For example, you believe that your lifestyle choices—healthy eating, regular exercise, and avoiding dangerous habits—really can affect your health. Indeed, you take pleasure in controlling your life through your choices, while understanding that there are no guarantees.
But what if you are not a naturally “positive person”? Can you change your attitude? The answer is yes, but it may not be easy and it won’t happen overnight. In particular, chronic pain, depression, anxiety, and responsibilities to others can be formidable barriers to a positive attitude. If you feel stuck and struggle with overcoming these barriers, seek professional help through your own doctor, a mental-health provider or consider a qualified behavior modification program that defines goals and outlines steps to achieve them.

It is my experience that, for most people, the easiest place to start changing lifestyle is with exercise. Once you schedule time for regular exercise, and follow through, you develop a sense of control. That makes it easier to eat healthy and to control dangerous habits. These small steps can help you build a positive attitude from the bottom up.
© 2005 Newsweek, Inc.


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Technology of the Heart
Technology of the Heart
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