Nobody really much cares for gloomy Gus. And angry Anna – well, she’s not all that popular either.
The moody and miserable among us are typically people we want to avoid. They’re very unpleasant to be around and their nasty emotions seem to infect us, making us feel blah, too. The phenomenon has actually even been studied by behavioral scientists. They’ve confirmed mood is akin to an infectious disease (yes, major ewwww and ick!). You can, simply put, ‘catch’ the moods of the people around you. And sadly, Lysol isn’t going to kill off these germs!
But there’s more reason to be concerned. A bad attitude may even make you sick – physically sick. It might even (gasp!) shorten your life.
Don’t believe that seeing the glass as half empty could be deadly?
Well, researchers at the University of Pittsburgh started, in 1994, examining the rates of death and chronic health conditions for over 100,000 women. As it turns out, the happy-go-lucky, glass-is-half-full participants were 14 percent less likely to die from any cause, 30 percent less likely to die from heart disease, and also less likely to have high blood pressure, diabetes or smoke cigarettes.
Now I know it’s not always an option to totally avoid the pessimists. And sometimes we ourselves are the grouchy ones. But don’t fret because guess what (are you guessing?) - your own attitudes, your moods, are indeed controllable and changeable. You can cultivate optimism and you can work to make sure that your good days outnumber the cranky ones.
First, and perhaps most important – make the choice to be happy. I mean sure, you won’t be able to change your circumstances (bad stuff can and will happen – there’s really no stopping it), but you can control how you think about things, how you react.
You always have two choices: be miserable or be happy. Decide that you will focus on the positives in life, rather than the negatives. Some days will be easier than others, of course. But as rock group Journey would sing to us: Don’t stop believing!!
And now for some ways to get your grin on:
Focus on Today Only: Don’t worry about the past since, in case you hadn’t realized, you can’t change it. Yes, it’s done, it’s over – move on! And don’t spend so much time getting worried over the future either. Concern yourself with the present – it really is enough to keep you occupied!
Take Care of Yourself: It’s not selfish. In fact, it’s a necessity. When you are at your best, you’ll have more to give to others. And really, if you’re frazzled and worn out, what good are you to anybody?
Feed Your Brain a Positive Diet: Listen to uplifting songs, read an empowering book, watch an inspirational movie.
Remember You Always Have a Choice: If you don’t like something, then you do have the power to change it. If you don’t like some aspect of your life then you can work to make things different. It probably won’t happen overnight, but in time, you can make it happen. So, have faith and believe in your power to transform things.
Hang Out With Happy People: Think about the people with whom you are spending your time and consider what sort of influence they are having on you. Now, you don’t need to totally write anybody off, but you should try to avoid anybody who’s bringing you down in some way. Instead, seek out the happier people – and make the effort to be in their company as often as possible.
Exercise: One word: endorphins!
(images: dancing guy:uploaded to Flickr by JanaMills 6/15/06; happy fella uploaded to Flickr by Monkeysox 3/27/08; fit and happy uploaded to Flickr by KevinDooley 8/30/08)