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Choose Optimism
Helen Dugdale
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Choose Optimism

Did you know that being optimistic is good for your health? 

Not just for your mental health but your physical health as well. Look at challenges as opportunities to learn from or to do something different, it’s not the end of the world even if it does seem disastrous right now.  Winston Churchill said, "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity, an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty”. For example: Say, you've dropped out of Uni, and an opening up comes up for a hobby that you are good at. Now you have time to pursue that field. 

Consider how much is being spent on pharmaceuticals and lost productivity due to anxiety and depression. The benefits of optimism can be life-long empowerment.

There have been many trials in recent years on the impact of optimism on your body and its functions.  Optimism can:

-  decrease blood pressure
- lower the chance of infection
-  lower cortisol levels (the stress hormone)
- increase oxygen to the brain which helps to grow and maintain neural function.

Other longitudinal studies (long term trials using the same participants), have shown that optimists tend to lead longer and healthier lives than pessimists. They tend to be more social, more active and have higher expectations that things will go right for them. 

Talk about self-fulfilling prophecies! 

 It may seem a tall ask to be optimistic when things are not going right but even when things appear grim we can train our brains to be optimistic – yes, you read right, we can train our brains to be optimistic. Fortunately, optimism can be learned (refer to Martin Seligman in his recent book - 'The Hope Circuit'). 

Luckily our brains are plastic, we are not 'hard-wired' to follow a certain path our whole life. Plasticity means that our brains are a 'work in progress', you can re-train your brain, so that positive thoughts are reinforced and new pathways are created. That is, new habits of thinking are formed. All it takes is practice, practice, practice! Just like learning a new song, or the times' tables, after a while, it does get easier and you don't have to think so hard, it becomes automatic.
The next step, after learning to think more positively is to be pro-active - you have to actually take some action to further embed your new habits. Brain coaching can help you with all these steps, and makes sure it is practical and feasible for your lifestyle.

Here are 3 easy things you can implement straight away to start retraining your brain and improve your optimism and your health –

1.   have a good laugh, Laughter is definitely the best medicine!
2.   appreciate what you have around you
3.   exercise to get the blood pumping and improve oxygen levels to the brain  


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