Three things that make you happy – and three things that won’t

by Carolyn Thomas  @HeartSisters

It turns out that feeling happy can actually improve our overall physical health – but there’s a catch.  According to an article in Harvard Medical School’s HealthBeat last month, positive emotions may need to be longterm in order to produce good health. In other words:

“Thinking positive thoughts for a month when you already have heart disease won’t cure the disease. But lowering your stress levels over a period of years with a positive outlook and relaxation techniques could reduce your risk of heart problems.”  

Continue reading “Three things that make you happy – and three things that won’t”

How optimism can be good for women’s hearts

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by Carolyn Thomas @HeartSisters

Good news, my heart sisters: a study published this week in the heart  journal Circulation reports that women with an optimistic outlook on life may live longer and be less likely to develop heart disease than their pessimistic counterparts.

Researchers found that, among more than 97,000 women between the ages of 50 and 79, those with generally optimistic dispositions were 14% less likely to die over eight years than pessimists. They were also over 9% less likely to develop coronary artery disease, and 30% less likely to die of heart complications.

But can you actually change from thinking like a pessimist if that’s your nature?   Continue reading “How optimism can be good for women’s hearts”

Get over yourself: how to stop boring others with your heart attack story

by Carolyn Thomas

I was a distance runner for 19 years, before a brutal case of plantar fasciitis dashed my Olympics dream forever.  I’m kidding about that last part.  My running group (motto: ‘No pace too slow, no course too short!’) had a useful running rule.  The first ten minutes of every training run were devoted to whining.

“My quads hurt. I’m so tired. I think I’m getting a blister.”

But at precisely the ten minute mark, the rule was: no more whining. Let’s face it, my heart sisters: nobody is that interested.

Upon ruminating on the wisdom of Dr. Martin Seligman‘s book Learned Optimism that I’ve been enjoying lately (see Even Heart Patients Can Learn to be Optimists), I can’t help but notice a proliferation of gloom, doom, pessimism, criticism, complaining, blaming and a whack of running negative commentary around lately. And other people besides me are grumpy, too . . .  Continue reading “Get over yourself: how to stop boring others with your heart attack story”

Even heart patients can learn to be optimists

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by Carolyn Thomas  @HeartSisters

I’ve been ruminating (something that female heart patients apparently tend to do when feeling depressed) about the writing of Dr. Martin Seligman, professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania and author of the excellent book, Learned Optimism. He writes:

“Optimism is not about ignoring what’s real, but becoming aware of your thoughts about why things happen.”

What’s really at the heart of optimism, Dr. Seligman adds, is how you explain negative experiences to yourself. When something bad happens to a pessimist, she’s likely to get into a sort of dark and hopeless mental muttering that has her thinking things like:

“Why me? Ain’t it awful? It’s permanent and everything is ruined and it’s all their fault.” Continue reading “Even heart patients can learn to be optimists”