Three types of heart happiness defined

by Carolyn Thomas  @HeartSisters

Dr. Martin Seligman is considered the father of what’s known as the positive psychology movement. He was once elected president of the American Psychological Association by the largest vote in that organization’s history, which must have made this self-described “natural born pessimist” feel almost happy. He’s also the author of a book that I often recommend to heart patients called Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life. This gem, originally published 20 years ago, is still a valuable tool for learning skills that decades of research have shown may actually enhance our sense of wellbeing – a commodity that’s in short supply for the freshly-diagnosed heart patient. Dr. Seligman lists some basic identifiable types of the elusive state we call happiness:

‘Happiness’ is a scientifically unwieldy notion, but there are three different forms of it you can pursue:   Continue reading “Three types of heart happiness defined”

How optimism can be good for women’s hearts

woman happy

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”

Even heart patients can learn to be optimists


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”