Negative thoughts are like parasites silently eating away your health. Can we overcome this harmful habit and beat the odds? I say, “Yes! Definitely!”

Our state of mind affects our health, so when you think like a pessimist, always expecting the worst, your fight-or-flight response is often stuck on standby. To illustrate, think of worrisome thoughts as revving your car. It’s useful before a race to test the engine, but if you keep gunning it all the time, you will burn out the motor.

Pessimists tend to have higher blood pressure and triglyceride levels than optimists, according to University of Pittsburgh research. Studies also reveal that a dour outlook can affect your organs, but optimism can boost your health. Jeffrey Huffman, MD, director of cardiac psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, concludes, “Happy and hopeful people are more likely to exercise, eat healthy and, of course, stop smoking.” In other words, happiness empowers us to take charge of our health.

Other studies prove that staying positive can tighten the faucet on cortisol, a stress hormone linked to hardening of the arteries. And IL6,
an inflammatory cytokine, is linked to multiple sclerosis and heart disease. So, looking on the sunny side pays big dividends.

When you reflect on the past, focus on your accomplishments. Savor the present; expect three good things to happen today. When you count your blessings, there may be even more than three! Start today — your health is your wealth.