Monday, October 26, 2015

Happier Heart, Healthier Heart: Positive Outlook May Protect Cardiovascular System

The connection between the actions we take and our cardiovascular health—what we eat and how often we exercise—is well known, but what about the impact of our thoughts?

A wide range of medical studies has concluded that an optimistic outlook—in particular the feeling that life is worth living—has a protective effect on heart health. For example, researchers with the Harvard School of Public Health found that people who exhibit optimism or “emotional vitality,” defined as maintaining a healthy interest in their lives and the world around them, have a 20-percent reduced risk of cardiovascular disease in comparison to people with a pessimistic outlook.

Several factors may account for how emotional outlook influences physical health. Martin Seligman, a pioneer in the field of positive psychology, suggests that optimists, believing they can make a difference, take action to maintain a healthy lifestyle. In addition, people with a positive outlook typically have stronger relationships with family and friends they can rely on for social support in adopting healthy habits. A third possibility is that emotional health may be linked to biological mechanisms that shield optimists from serious illness or aid in their recovery.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Try the High-Five Strategy “Treasure Hunters and Trash Collectors”

by Guest Blogger Donna Wilson

We encourage teachers and parents alike to help students to develop the habit of consistently focusing on what’s useful and positive in their lives. An effective way to do this is to use the High-Five strategy, as described in our book, 60 Strategies for Increasing Student Learning.

The first step is to introduce the concept of positive learning. Discuss the benefits such as better motivation, problem solving, and well-being. Ensure that students have a chance to participate. Ask students if they would like to learn a way to more consistently sustain positive learning states. When you get their affirmation, read aloud the following story about Treasure Hunters and Trash Collectors.

Friday, October 9, 2015

The Power of Positivity in Schools

Our latest regular blog post on Edutopia is “Unleashing the Power of Positivity in Your School.” As we explain in the post, a positive community of educators within a school has a powerful effect on the students who actively learn there. Teachers help create a positive environment by exhibiting and modeling an optimistic outlook and can-do attitude.

The post builds on a previous post that we wrote, which outlines the benefits of practical optimism as a strategy for achieving one’s goals through commitment, execution and maintaining a positive outlook that success is possible. In this latest post, we outline a variety of strategies that may be useful in enhancing practical optimism, such as staying focused on the “upside,” expressing gratitude, and regularly committing small acts of kindness. Other strategies include being mindful of your emotional state, giving your brain and body a positive workout, and infusing positive feelings into your surroundings.