Nancy Weinbeck
Nancy Weinbeck

With our world seemingly in turmoil, it may sound foolish to promote a positive outlook, yet research points to exactly that for better health outcomes — particularly important while COVID-could be lurking behind every mask.

Research continues to suggest that having a positive attitude is associated with better health outcomes and increased longevity. And guess what? Our elders are particularly good at it. While aging brings challenges that often coincide with advanced years, it also brings the gift of positivity bias. Not all biases are bad, and the positivity bias can be a particularly helpful one, especially as we age. Research points to older adults having a greater positivity bias than younger people. Here are a few of the advantages a positivity bias can bring:

 1. It may enhance longevity. A variety of studies over the last 20 years have pointed to this outcome.

2. It can boost the immune system. This is especially important for our elders who are prone to compromised immune systems.

 3. It can lower blood pressure and blood sugar levels.

 4. It can reduce stress (and thereby causing improvements in key markers as noted above).

 5. It can make us more resilient when facing injury or illness.

If you’re not necessarily feeling strong on positivity, here are a few “positivity hacks” than can help move you along.

 1. The pencil trick. Trick your brain into thinking you’re happy by gripping a pencil between your teeth. It forces a smile which creates a grin. Your brain doesn’t know the difference and thinks you’re happy. So it sends happy chemicals like dopamine, serotonin and endorphins throughout your body. Also known as “fake it till you make it.”

 2. The reframing trick. When something is making you angry, try to look at it in a different way that will enhance the positive. Rainy weather? Great excuse to cuddle up with a good book.

 3. Practice one “random act of kindness” each day — do something nice for someone! It feels good for the recipient and it feels good for you.

 4. Express gratitude for something each day, however seemingly small and insignificant.

 5. Be intentional in doing something that makes you smile — call a friend, pet a dog, etc. That’s a random act of kindness for yourself!

Here is why I’m feeling positive about Bayview:

 1. Our residents are awesome.

 2. Our staff are awesome.

 3. I have great friends here (staff and residents).

 4. I get to help people every day.

 5. I get great help from great people every day.

How are you flexing your positivity muscles?

 

— Nancy Weinbeck is the CEO of Bayview in Queen Anne.