Positive Living for Longevity

Jul 31st, 2011 | By Sharon Shaw Elrod MSW EdD | Category: For Senior Women

Many of us senior women enjoy the spirit of happiness, and have done so most of our lives.  That spirit is what Johns Hopkins Health Alert calls the Power of Positive Psychology.  SCJ editors resonated with the message in this Health Alert, and wanted to both cite it and expand on the notion of living positively.

This JH Health Alert tells us that positive psychology works.  In other words, it “…focuses on the strengths and virtues that help people thrive, such as courage, gratitude, compassion, resilience and creativity.  While most therapists attempt to ‘fix what’s wrong,’ positive psychologists also want to ‘build what’s strong.’”(Johns Hopkins Health Alert/depression/anxiety)

The Johns Hopkins suggestions for living positively include the following:

  • Identify and use signature strengths.  Write down your top five strengths and try to use them more and in new ways each day.
  • Keep a gratitude journal.  Often recommended by Oprah Winfrey, this positive psychology technique involves writing down each evening three good things that happened to you and noting why you think they happened.  Many people focus on negative emotions or events and ignore the positive ones.  Keeping a gratitude journal is a way to shift your focus to the more positive aspects of your life and to reflect on them.
  • Express appreciation to other individuals.  Extend your gratitude to the important people in your life.
  • Perform acts of kindness.  Turning your focus to improving the lives of people around you can increase hour own happiness.  Try to help others in ways both random (like holding the door open for someone or letting someone go in front of you in line) and planned (such as volunteering or donating blood). (Posted in Depression and Anxiety on June 21, 2011).

In addition, we seniors always have the option of gently confronting negative behavior, and insisting on a change to the positive in our presence.  A dear friend (octogenarian, indeed!) has been known to say, in the face of negative behavior and language, “I prefer to live a positive life, my dear; my glass is always half full, not half empty.  And I must ask you to do the same in my presence.”  She is loved and adored for her magnificent insistence on living positively, and she has lived long enough to expect the same of her friends and family!

 



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