Cultivate the Positive
Sixty-five years ago, Dr. Norman Vincent Peale revolutionized the publishing world with his enormously popular book "The Power of Positive Thinking." Fifty-one years later, the equally popular book and video "The Secret" proposed the same argument: that focusing on the things that we want (i.e., being positive or optimistic) can pay big dividends.
Some people have interpreted this attitude as meaning that tangible material items (a bigger home, a new car, etc.) will come their way if they just focus on that object long enough and hard enough. But new studies indicate that the major benefit of thinking positively has less to do with our assets than our immune system.
Judith T. Moskowitz, a professor of medical social sciences at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine, is being hailed as the scientific patron saint of positivity. She has helped train patients who are coping with a variety of physical challenges to focus on a set of eight skills to create and maintain positive emotion. Years earlier, she and her colleagues at the University of California, San Francisco, found that using these skills helped newly diagnosed HIV patients combat their infection more effectively.
As most of us know, it's no easy task to remain calm, feel happy and experience satisfaction while coping with a health crisis. But Moskowitz and her colleagues encouraged their patients in both San Francisco and Chicago to study and retain at least three of the following eight skills, and to practice one or more of them every single day.
--List a personal strength and how you have used it.
--Practice mindfulness. Focus on the here and now.
--Recognize and practice small acts of kindness on a daily basis.
--Start a daily gratitude journal.
--Set an attainable goal, and note your progress.
--Write down a minor stress in your life, and list ways to think of it positively.