There IS A Scientific Connection Between Mindfulness and Optimism
With the news and economic turmoil due to the COVID-19, there is a significant amount of concern and panic spreading right now. If you’ve been to the grocery store you’ve seen it with empty shelves. If you have children, they are probably “out” of school with all the school closures.
Everything is shaking like an emotional humanity earthquake.
We have information and advice from the CDC but that is not a guarantee of solutions…too many variables.
Now, you’ve probably heard a lot about mindfulness lately. Mindfulness is a way of living your life consciously, being aware of what you’re doing and why and enjoying being in the moment. To live mindfully is an aspect of creating an optimistic view of yourself and the world. Mindfulness and optimism are connected but not the same.
Scientists agree that your mindset and whether you tend to be pessimistic or optimistic is something you can change. Only about 25% of optimism is inheritable, with the rest influenced by the environment where you grew up. And if your home environment was dysfunctional or tense, you are more likely to develop a pessimistic mindset. But it is not an innate part of you, and you can change it. Once you realize that you are not hard-wired for pessimistic thinking, it becomes easier to change.
Mindset is something that’s relatively easy to change. When you can step back and see how your mind was programmed, you can take back control and reset. Research has shown that there’s a part of your brain called the Reticular Activating System (RAS) that acts as a kind of control center and filters information from the outside world according to your current settings. And if you tune into to negativity, that’s what you will receive. But just as you can adjust your email to prioritize and filter messages, you can reset your RAS to help build your optimism. And practicing mindfulness can help you do that.
Mindfulness and meditation are complementary techniques that will help you build a strong scaffolding for optimism. Studies have shown that mindfulness practices can help you:
Stay in the present
Negativity is often fostered by brooding on past events and wishing you had done things differently. Mindfulness focuses your attention on what’s happening in the here and now. An optimistic view of the world stays in the present and looks forward to the future. We have more questions than answers but that doesn’t mean we need to give ourselves over to worrying about tomorrow. We’ve weathered storms before, and we WILL make it through this one!
Mindfulness gives you the mental space to be able to reframe problems as challenges and opportunities. You have a choice about how to RESPOND to the circumstances you find yourself in now. Choosing to be optimistic will help you solve problems and find creative solutions as well as not get overwhelmed.
Optimism and mindfulness have been scientifically proven to improve your health! Don’t let the stress and worry over the virus wear down your immune system! People who practice mindfulness and who have an optimistic approach to life have:
- lower cholesterol
- lower blood pressure
- stronger immune systems
- better resilience to deal with stress
- less anxiety and depression
- more positive relationships
If you find yourself with extra time on your hands here are a few activities to consider:
- Read that book
- Write that letter
- Call that friend
- Take that online course
- Research starting your own business
- Organize your home office
- Start a gratitude journal
- Paint that picture
- Write that song
- Meditate and do the inner work
- Play with the kids/grandkids
And so many other possibilities!
We all have the opportunity to choose our direction each day so make the positive choices, take the action that will move you closer to your goals, closer to happiness and peace of mind, be thankful for the many blessings you have in your life, and, in all cases, act with honor.