Monday, September 05, 2016

TM Speech: The Glass is Half Full - The Power of Positive Thinking (You Guessed it: No Running Content)

Dearest Readers,

I have recently given some speeches in connection with my Toastmasters International membership. Some are related to running, and some are not. When possible, I will publish the speeches. This is one of them.

The Glass is Half Full - The Power of Positive Thinking

Always Look on the Bright Side of Life
Singing: “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life….” That is from a Monty Python Movie called, The Life of Brian. Jesus and several other men are being crucified, and one guy, who is dying on the cross, begins singing that happy song. Soon the others join in, and everyone is smiling and thoroughly happy. It’s a preposterous scene, even for Monty Python.

But ludicrous though it is, it demonstrates an important aspect of human nature: the power of positive thinking. Those guys are going to die, but they seemingly couldn’t be happier. 

In the words of author/minister Norman Vincent Peale, “The way to happiness is to keep your heart free from hate, your mind from worry. Live simply, expect little, give much. Scatter sunshine, forget self, think of others.” Positive thought makes positive people, and positive people accomplish great things. Not the least of which is personal happiness and fulfillment.

Optimism comes from the Latin word optimus, meaning "best," which describes how an optimistic person is always looking for the best in any situation and expecting good things to happen. Optimism is the tendency to believe, expect or hope that things will turn out well. Even if something bad happens, an optimist sees the silver lining.

The emerging field of positive psychology studies the positive impact that optimism has on mental health. Other research shows that optimism may be good for physical health too—optimists are sick less and live longer than pessimists. Apparently, a positive outlook on life strengthens the immune system (and the body's defenses against illness), cardiovascular system, and the body's ability to handle stress.

Fake it Until You Make it
Can You Boost Your Bright Side?

Although a positive personality is something we’re often born with, there are steps you can take to improve your outlook and reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease.

Simply smile more.

A University of Kansas study found that smiling—even fake smiling—reduces heart rate and blood pressure during stressful situations. So try a few minutes of YouTube humor therapy when you’re stomping your feet waiting in line or fuming over a work or family situation. It’s difficult not to smile while watching a favorite funny video.  

Practice reframing.

Instead of stressing about a traffic jam, for instance, appreciate the fact that you can afford a car and get to spend a few extra minutes listening to music or the news, accepting that there is absolutely nothing you can do about the traffic.

Build resiliency.

Resiliency is the ability to adapt to stressful and/or negative situations and losses. Experts recommend these key ways to build yours:
• Maintain good relationships with family and friends.
• Accept that change is a part of life.
• Take action on problems rather than just hoping they disappear or waiting for them to resolve themselves

It’s Contagious

Both pessimism and optimism are contagious. If you associate yourself with optimistic, happy people, you’re disposition will reflect those qualities. So of course you should, when possible, spend time with positive people.

Smiling is contagious. Laughing is contagious. I mentioned the health benefits of smiling; they’re even greater for laughing.  If I start laughing, most of the rest of you will as well.

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