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  • Writer's pictureShelly Hoekstra

How Optimism & Positive Affirmations Can Transform Our Lives

The power of our mind is magnificent by design, and when we take advantage of its unique abilities, we can manufacture miraculous healing, and transformation in our lives. With a positive outlook on life, we can tap into the fountain of youth, and experience more fulfilling paths. With repetitious affirming statements, we can manifest our deepest desires. Create the life you've been dreaming of, mind, body, and soul.


Multicolored sky reflected in water with a silhouette of man, arms wide open with hands facing up in an expression of optimism

Optimism


Our lives are created by the perspectives that we hold. Our health, our livelihood, and all of our manifestations, including our relationships and the places we live, are reflections of our attitudes and our thoughts. What we expect, we get, good or bad. Therefore, when we consciously focus our thoughts on positivity, we create the realities we dream of.


You have the ability to transform your present life. Experience greater physical health, more resiliency, improved performance, enhanced mood, and minimize stress levels by maintaining a positive mindset.



Benefits of Optimism


  • Fosters healthy living & extends lifespan

  • Speeds up recovery

  • Instills determination & enhances productivity

  • Allows for patience

  • Increases motivation & heightens problem-solving ability

  • Enhances adaptability

  • Facilitates the ability to see things from a different perspective

  • Improves tolerance & helps manage adversity

  • Diminishes symptoms of depression and anxiety

  • Helps to manage failure constructively

  • Infuses mental clarity

  • Promotes healthy relationships

  • Generates more success


Scientific Findings


Research confirms that optimism has the ability to transform our lives for the better. In one study, conducted by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, results showed that optimism is linked with longer lifespans.


A randomized study of 161, 808 participants was conducted over the course of several decades. The results showed that the most optimistic subjects were more likely to have a longer lifespan, and to live past the age of 90, compared to those who were the least optimistic. These results held true across racial and ethnic groups. Researchers also found that lifestyle factors, such as physical exercise and proper nutrition, were minimal in the optimism-lifespan association. Optimism fosters our health and longevity. (Koga et al, 2022).


Another interesting study linked participants subjective age to how well they healed. Those who felt younger were more optimistic and recovered from injury more quickly. Bar-Ilan University in Israel looked at almost 200 subjects who were receiving rehabilitation from fractures or stroke. Patients who perceived their age as younger at hospital admission had more functional independence at the time they were discharged, one month afterwards. Subjects who felt younger were more optimistic about their ability to heal, which was linked to their recovering faster. Participants subjective age was the primary factor in their advanced results despite chronological age, or other health issues. What we think about directly affects our realities. (Kalir et al, 2022).



How to Become an Optimist


Many of us are not used to looking at the highlights in life, and we go through our everyday lives blind to our thought patterns. How often are you perseverating on what isn’t working in your life? Are you mucking it up with family, friends or colleagues about the negativity that surrounds you? When we do this, we are indiscriminately attracting the very things we most want eliminated from our lives. Here are some strategies to improve your patterns:


  • First, you have to make peace with your life as it is presently. When you fight against current circumstances (career, health, etc.), you get more of it. That which we resist persists. Life is everchanging, and it is important to hold the belief that the future will be a better one by your consciously creating it.

  • Next, pay attention to thought patterns. Pivot your thoughts when you catch yourself in negativity. Turn your thoughts from what it is you don’t want, to what it is you do want.

  • Focus on the highlights in your life. Think about the highlights with heartfelt emotion. Share your highlights with others and ask to hear about theirs.

  • When you’re feeling stuck in a situation, spend some time pondering alternative solutions. Don’t dwell on limiting thoughts or beliefs. Remember, the universe is limitless and there may be a solution you haven’t thought of. Believe you will find a solution.

  • Imagine your life as you’d like it to be. Tap into the emotions you have when you dream of your life as you’d like it to be.

  • Focus on gratitude.

  • Avoid negative people and conversations.

  • Be patient and remember that practice leads to improvement. Changing behaviors and thought patterns takes time and conscious effort.



Positive Affirmations


Our conscious minds learn by experiencing with our senses, while our subconscious minds learn by repetition, and receiving information while in a relaxed state. Our subconscious minds are where are beliefs are shaped and come to life.


Many of us are programmed to repeat negative and self-sabotaging thought patterns about ourselves, our world, and what we can expect out of life. This may happen when very difficult life experiences have been encountered. The effects of the undesirable situations, potent negative thoughts and emotions, become part of the subconscious identity, which can create limiting belief systems. This can hold us trapped in a place where we are unable to heal. It can imprison us, holding us in fear of seeking change, and can lead to the belief that we won’t be able to achieve anything better than our present state.


Positive affirmations have the power to transform our lives and break us free from any perceived barriers. When we begin turning negative self-talk into positive statements about ourselves, and our lives, these repetitive thoughts work their way into our subconscious minds.



Positive Affirmation Origins


Positive affirmations originated in the late 1800s with Émile Coué, a French psychologist and pharmacist. He believed that the mind could improve the effectiveness of healing. While working as an apothecary (pharmacist), he noticed greater improvements with people when he assured them of decisive results from their treatments. He would provide a brief positive declaration with each medication. Believing in their recovery, people healed more quickly. Research has since supported this theory and it is now known as the placebo effect.


Upon retirement, in 1913, Coué and his wife founded the Lorraine Society of Applied Psychology, and further developed the conscious autosuggestion practice, helping patients with mental health challenges lead more fulfilling lives. The infamous affirmation, "Every day, in every way, I'm getting better and better" was coined by Coué.


Positive affirmations have been powerfully impactful for people since that time, assisting with improvements in all aspects of life, including our physical bodies. What we think about is what we bring about.


Further research has validated the benefits of positive affirmations. Our brains do not know the difference between imagined and real, which can work to our benefit. With the practice of positive affirmations, we utilize our brain's power to activate our reward centers and develop new neuropathways that support our positive thought patterns. (Cascio et al., 2016).


Our brains are wired to take shortcuts for our survival. When we create new neuropathways based on positivity and the lives we desire, our subconscious minds then draw our conscious attention to opportunities surrounding us that can take us closer to our dreams. Our belief systems transform into positive expectation. With positive neuropathways, our subconscious minds send messages within our physical bodies that generate the healing process. Positive affirmations are beneficial for the mind, body, and spirit.



How to Use Positive Affirmations

  • Use brief, simple statements

  • Keep the statements in the present tense (I am...), and as though you have already achieved or surpassed your goals

  • Feel the emotional state associated with each affirmation (this is an essential ingredient in the recipe, use visualization if needed)

  • Use the statements daily (repetition is key)

  • Use positive statements only (put the focus on what you do want rather than trying to eliminate what you don't want, such as a healthy body rather than losing weight)

  • Make them personal

  • Make them believable for you (using affirmations that seem unachievable can make you feel worse)


Some Examples:

  • I am worthy and deserving of happiness, it is my birthright

  • I love myself for who I am right now

  • I am brave and willing to step outside of my comfort zone

  • My confidence is getting stronger

  • I am healing on every level, mind, body, & soul

  • I am successful, thriving, and fulfilled


If you're having difficulty coming up with positive affirmations that feel right for you, take a look at some examples online for your subject matter. Just be sure to follow the recommendations above.


Guided positive affirmation recordings are also available. This allows you to be in a relaxed state while receiving the repeated messages which can be helpful in transferring the information to the subconscious mind. However, these will be more general affirmations for overall wellness, and may or may not be personal enough for you.


Make positive affirmations a habit and you will begin to transform your life. It does take some time to change our belief systems so be patient and keep practicing.



 

References


Cascio, C., O'Donnell, M.B., Tinney, F.J., Lieberman, M.D., Taylor, S.E., Strecher, V.J., Falk, E.B. (2016). Self-affirmation Activates Brain Systems Associated with Self-Related Processing and Reward and is Reinforced by Future Orientation. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience.



 

Kalir, D.M., Shrira, A., Palgi, Y., Batz, C., Ben-Eliezer, A., Heyman, N., Lieberman, D., Seleznev, I., Shugaev, I., Zaslavsky, O. Zikrin, E., Bodner, E. (2022). Feeling Younger, Rehabilitating Better: Reciprocal and Mediating Effects Between Subjective Age and Functional Independence in Osteoporotic Fracture and Stoke Patients. Gerontology.


https://www.researchgate.net/publication/360868902_Feeling_Younger_Rehabilitating_Better_Reciprocal_and_Mediating_Effects_between_Subjective_Age_and_Functional_Independence_in_Osteoporotic_Fracture_and_Stroke_Patients


 

Koga, H.K., Trudel-Fitzgerald, C., Lee, L.O., James, P., Kroenke, C., Garcia, L., Shadyab, A.H., Salmoirago-Blotcher, E., Manson, J.E., Grodstein, F., Kubzansky, L.D. (2022). Optimism, Lifestyle, and Longevity in a Racially Diverse Cohort of Women. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.




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© 2021 Shelly Hoekstra, Life Coach & Alternative Healing

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