By Rachel Welch
With age comes wisdom, and with wisdom comes a fresh way of observing the world. As we age, we each have the choice to fine-tune our brains in a way that will help us. We can choose to wire our brains in a way that will actually improve the process of aging--with positivity! By choosing positivity, you can change your DNA, your outlook, and your life. Let's explore the benefits of choosing to age with positivity!
The Brain's Remarkable Ability to Change
We have the power to change our brains with positivity. But how does that work? Neuroplasticity is the brain's ability to form new connections based on how we think, act, and feel (1). What is amazing about neuroplasticity is that we have control over the connections that our brains make!
We can intentionally choose our thoughts, edit our reactions, and redirect typical thought processes. This gives us the ability to reshape the neural pathways in our brain. Choosing what you feed your brain is a wonderful thing, especially if you choose to feed it positive thoughts.
The Power of Positivity
Science has confirmed that our brains thrive on positivity. When something good happens, our brain releases happy hormones, like dopamine, oxytocin, and serotonin (2)! These happy chemicals rise up in our brains when we laugh, exercise, hug a loved one, or meditate. They help the brain flourish in remarkable ways. They can increase overall mood, boost joy, and even improve our skin's complexion (3). Happy hormones boost our immunity against illness, protect our heart health, and improve our ability to handle stress (4). What is remarkable is that positivity also has the ability to slow down the speed at which we age, at a cellular level.
Positivity and Positive Changes in the Body
Recent studies show that meditation and mindfulness can lead to many positive changes in the body and brain. As mindfulness and positivity are often closely related, it comes as no surprise that positive thinking will yield similar, healthy results. A study in 2011 found that:
"Mindfulness meditation techniques appear to shift cognitive appraisals from threat to challenge, decrease ruminative thought, and reduce stress arousal. Mindfulness may also directly increase positive arousal states."
(See reference 5 below)
In addition to eating well, exercising regularly, and getting quality sleep, it seems that the choice to age with positivity is one that will support and prolong the health of our DNA! Telomeres are protective coverings on the end of each DNA strand. Telomeres are important because they keep our cells healthy. When we become encumbered by stress, our body receives the unhappy chemical, cortisol. Cortisol causes these telomeres to sustain damage, which in turn causes our cells to become inflamed, and age more quickly (6). And, if our cells which create us, age more quickly, that means that we age more quickly!
Attitude is Everything
In addition to general positive thinking and mindfulness, a positive attitude specifically about aging may be another priceless tool to keep in our toolbox. Studies show that a positive attitude about the process of aging can directly impact how gracefully and slowly our bodies will age. Researchers found that adults who thought negatively about aging, who dwelled on limitations and refused to learn new things, had lower quality health both physically and mentally. They also found that overall frailty was more common in adults who thought negatively about aging, compared to those who remained positive about the journey of aging, and who found new things to enjoy (7). So, to maintain youth and vibrance, we must also maintain a positive outlook and appreciation related to aging.
How to Age with Positivity
This research and more goes to show that we have more control over our aging process than we initially realized. From choosing positivity, engaging in meditative mindfulness, and controlling our levels of stress, we can slow down the aging process of our DNA, and therefore of our bodies and minds. While there may not be a perfect anti-aging serum, vitamin, or elixir, it seems that the power of positivity is a valuable tool! Isn't it amazing that you have the power to alter your aging process? You have the power to choose to age with positivity, and we hope that you do! Your body and brain will thank you.
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