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The power of positive thinking

The power of positive thinking

Is your glass half full or half empty? If you tend to expect the worst it's time to change your attitude, as experts claim thinking positively can help you live longer.

According to a new study, living life with a smile on your face could protect you from suffering a heart attack, needing surgery and premature death.

To come to this conclusion, scientists at the University College London looked at 369 people who had suffered a heart attack or angina. The pessimistic patients were twice as likely to suffer a more serious health condition in the next four years when compared with the more optimistic patients. The more serious conditions included severe heart attacks, heart surgery or death.

Researchers studied the mental attitudes of participants admitted to hospital with unstable angina and heart attacks and monitored their health over the next 46 months.

British Heart Foundation professor Andrew Steptoe and his team believe the key to their findings is linked to optimism.

In the study, the most pessimistic patients were still smoking a year after being admitted to hospital.

However, 85 per cent of optimistic smokers had quit the habit after a year. Optimistic patients also looked after their health more in general following their heart attack or angina, upping their fruit and veg intake - 40 per cent of those with sunny dispositions were hitting their five a day a year on. That's in comparison with 20 per cent of pessimistic patients.

"Our research shows that optimistic people are more likely to take advice about lifestyle changes on board, like quitting smoking and eating more healthily – this results in better outcomes after a patient suffers from unstable angina or a heart attack," lead author of the research, Professor Steptoe, said.

"Our findings could be used to identify pessimistic patients and encourage them to make the necessary changes to their lifestyle that can ultimately lead to better health."

Suffering a serious heart condition can have a considerable impact on mental health, so the advice is to contact your GP if you are facing similar issues.

Even if you are currently healthy, there's a lot to be said for maintaining a positive outlook. Even just standing up straighter and smiling can trick your brain into thinking you're feeling good and will also make you more approachable, thus helping your forge bonds and connect with others.

A top tip is to be the best version of yourself for the first five minutes of any situation. So even if you're heading into work with a sense of dread or coming home tired after a long day, take a deep breath and force yourself to act happy for at least five minutes. Often the positivity will take over and any negative feelings will fade.

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