Betsy's Blog

Positive Emotions May Extend Life

Woman smelling flowers

What is the secret to aging well?  There is no magic bullet, but I do see a major theme – being positive. It’s holding onto a certain optimism that things aren’t so bad; things could be worse. With my clients, I try to bring back the joy in their lives by identifying what used to give them pleasure and tap into this. This is the stuff worth living for.

When I met my first client six years ago, I was struck by how much resilience and positivity she possessed – this positivity drew people to her and was infectious. Here is a video of my beloved client, at the ripe age of 92 years old, playing in the snow with me, and finding joy in the moment.

I stumbled on an article in The New York Times about how positive emotions may extend life. The article specifically mentioned the work of Dr. Judith T. Moskowitz, a professor of medical social sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, who developed a set of eight skills to help foster positive emotions.

The eight skills are:

  1. Recognize a positive event each day.
  2. Savor that event and log it in a journal or tell someone about it.
  3. Start a daily gratitude journal.
  4. List a personal strength and note how you used it.
  5. Set an attainable goal and note your progress.
  6. Report a relatively minor stress and list ways to reappraise the event positively.
  7. Recognize and practice small acts of kindness daily.
  8. Practice mindfulness, focusing on the here and now rather than the past or future.

Also encouraging are studies which suggest that people can learn new skills that help them experience more positive emotions when faced with the severe stress of a life-threatening illness and “a good outlook is linked to lower blood pressure, less heart disease, better weight control and healthier sugar levels.”  So, what’s the takeaway? It’s never too late to make a change in one’s outlook. What do you have to lose? Nothing. It’s all that you can gain.

Categories: Life Enhancement