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Becoming More Optimistic March 2011

Dear Fellow Nurse,

Last week when I arrived at a hotel at one o’clock in the morning, I was greeted by the energetic and friendly bellman in this photograph. His name is Harry. He’s 82 years old, works 24 hours a week, and exudes good health and a love of life!

As we walked to my room, Harry told me about some of his secrets to successful aging and the importance of a positive attitude. It was very encouraging to see how mentally sharp and physically active an 82 year old can be! Harry is a living testament to the connection between an optimistic mindset and health and longevity.

Recent research confirms what Harry already knew – a positive attitude helps to protect your health and brings greater happiness. Studies show that optimists earn more money, have stronger immune systems, are more likely to help others, have stronger support systems, are more productive, feel less stressed, are more energetic and live longer lives.

We hope this newsletter will provide you with strategies and resources to help you and your patients become more optimistic.

Happy Spring!

Janet Fontana, RN, MA

Can Optimism be Learned?

Yes! While there is a genetic tendency to be either an optimist or a pessimist, Martin Seligman, PhD of the University of Pennsylvania has conducted numerous studies showing that adults and children can learn skills that will improve their ability to see the glass half-full.

The most effective ways to develop a more optimistic outlook include:

• Challenge negative thoughts

• Adopt an attitude of gratitude

• Live in the moment

• Engage in activities that bring you meaning and a sense of purpose

• Set personal and professional goals

• Practice relaxation techniques such as meditation, yoga and mindfulness

• Write about your best possible future

Optimist Heart Patients Prevail

According to researchers at Duke University Medical Center who followed nearly 3,000 heart patients, an optimistic outlook positively impacts outcomes. Compared to their pessimistic peers, patients with an optimistic attitude were about 30 percent more likely to be alive after 15 years.

The researchers believe that optimistic patients had better outcomes because they are more likely to remain hopeful about their recovery and follow treatment plans. Also, optimists tend to be more relaxed and have healthier coping strategies so they are less prone to the negative effects that stress can have on heart health. Archives of Internal Medicine

Featured Nursing CE Program

Do you know anyone who is dealing with unemployment, divorce, illness or other life challenges? Even the most optimistic people can find it hard to cope with major changes. In her nursing CE webinar “Change Happens,” Lenore explores the 3 stages of transition and offers many ways to help people keep a more positive outlook and move through challenges with confidence.

Quiet Worried Thinking

Take a break from the many thoughts that normally run through your mind as you enjoy deep relaxation with our 20-minute guided meditation. Buy now for $12.

Free shipping with coupon code: Relax

Suggested Resources

Books:

Authentic Happiness by Martin Seligman, PhD

It’s Not the End of the World by Joan Borysenko, PhD

Learned Optimism by Martin Seligman, PhD

Positivity by Barbara Fredrickson, PhD

The How of Happiness by Sonja Lyubomirsky, PhD

Scientifically Tested Questionnaires:

Authentic Happiness at UPenn

Happiness iPhone Application: Live Happy

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