A Positive Mindset = Positive Health Benefits - Wakunaga of America


A Positive Mindset = Positive Health Benefits

Are you a glass half empty or a glass half full kind of person? If you chose the latter, you may be in luck! Recent studies suggest that those with a more optimistic mindset are healthier than the Debbie Downers of the world.

What is Positive Thinking?

Positive thinking means that you simply approach life and its challenges with a more optimistic and productive mindset. In other words, you are more likely to focus on the good in any given situation. This doesn’t mean you’re not realistic. It just means you tend to approach life’s problems or setbacks with the expectation that things will go well. On the other hand, people with a more pessimistic view of life tend to believe that if something can go wrong, it will.

According to new research in the journal Science Reports, people who practice positive thinking are more satisfied with their lives and are more resilient when faced with less than ideal situations. And this was even true in older people.1 But being optimistic doesn’t just make you happier. It can also make you healthier!

The Health Benefits of a Positive Mindset

It’s easy to see how positive thinking can make you feel happier and more productive. But a growing number of studies have found that an optimistic outlook can also provide a wealth of health benefits. These include:

  1. Boosting longevity 2,3
  2. Enhancing immunity4,5
  3. Improving cardiovascular health6
  4. Promoting better sleep7
  5. Protecting against the negative effects of chronic pain and disability8
  6. Reducing feelings of anxiety and depression9
  7. Reducing the risk of frailty in the elderly10

In one 2019 review of 15 studies that looked at the link between a positive attitude and cardiovascular disease, researchers found that people who were most optimistic had a lower risk of experiencing a potentially deadly heart attack or other cardiovascular event compared to those who were more pessimistic.11 And an earlier study analysis involving more than 70,000 people reported that those with higher levels of optimism had a 35 percent lower risk of experiencing a cardiovascular event compared to individuals with lower levels of optimism.12

How can a more positive mental mindset trigger these physical effects? Some experts believe that people with a positive outlook are either less affected by or more resilient to the negative effects of stress.13 Others think that optimists tend to practice healthier habits like making  better food choices, exercising more, and generally avoiding unhealthy behaviors.14 Whatever the reason, the bottom line is that taking a positive approach to life is good for both mind and body.

Support Your Optimism Neurotransmitters

So is positive thinking a choice? Not entirely. Research in the Journal of Positive Psychology suggests that up to 25 percent of your inner Eeyore is actually hereditary.15 But, like all things genetic, your genes aren’t necessarily your destiny. And that means you can take steps to change your world view to a more positive one, starting with your neurotransmitters.

Your happiness neurotransmitters—especially dopamine and serotonin—rely on certain nutrients. For instance, adequate amounts of the B vitamins, especially folate and vitamin B6, are needed for the production of dopamine and serotonin.16 And research suggests that ginkgo biloba and phosphatidylserine can also increase dopamine levels.17,18 

More recent research suggests that your neurotransmitters are also influenced by your gut via the gut-brain axis.19 In fact, serotonin is actually synthesized in the gut and not the brain.20 That’s one important reason why maintaining a healthy gut microbiome can influence your mood and sense of optimism. One way to foster a healthier microbiome and a more positive mindset is with a daily probiotic supplement. This was seen in a recent clinical study of healthy volunteers that appeared in the journal Frontiers in Psychiatry. The researchers reported that those taking a probiotic experienced a significant improvement in their mood and less depression, anger or fatigue, leading to a more positive attitude.21

5 Lifestyle Hacks to Foster Healthy Optimism

The Mayo Clinic also offers up a handful of ways you can re-train your brain to be more optimistic.22

  1. Check yourself. Take a minute to evaluate what you’re thinking. If you’re primarily thinking negative thoughts, stop and try to put a more positive spin on them.
  2. Be open to humor and fun. Laughter is a proven stress-buster, especially during difficult times. It’s also been shown to bolster your body’s immune response.23
  3. Surround yourself with positive people. Negative people can increase your stress levels and support a more pessimistic view of life. Hanging out with positive people, on the other hand, breeds happiness and optimism.
  4. Keep a gratitude journal. Counting your blessings on a daily basis is a great reminder that things aren’t as grim as you imagine. One study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that maintaining a gratitude journal was linked to greater feelings of optimism.24
  5. Practice positive self-talk. Don’t say anything to yourself you wouldn’t say to someone else. Be kind and encouraging with yourself by repeating affirmations confirming the good things about yourself and your life.


It may take a while to go from seeing people and events through a negative lens to looking for the bright side of life. But with practice, you can become more optimistic and learn to celebrate that glass half full.


  1. Taherkhani Z, Kaveh MH, Mani A, et al. The effect of positive thinking on resilience and life satisfaction of older adults: a randomized controlled trial. Science Reports. 2023;13(1):3478.
  2. Koga HK, Trudel-Fitzgerald C, Lee LO. Optimism, lifestyle, and longevity in a racially diverse cohort of women. Journal of the American Geriatric Society. 2022;70(10):2793-2804.
  3. Lee LO, Grodstein F, Trudel-Fitzgerald C. Optimism, daily stressors, and emotional well-being over two decades in a cohort of aging men. The Journals of Gerontology, Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences. 202211;77(8):1373-83.
  4. Brydon L, Walker C, Wawrzyniak AJ, et al. Dispositional optimism and stress-induced changes in immunity and negative mood. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity. 2009;23(6):810-6.
  5. Association for Psychological Science. Optimism boosts the immune system. ScienceDaily, 24 March 2010.
  6. Boehm JK, Qureshi F, Chen Y, et al. Optimism and cardiovascular health: longitudinal findings from the coronary artery risk development in young adults study. Psychosomatic Medicine. 2020;82(8):774-781.
  7. Chen M, He Z, Zhang Z, et al. Association of physical activity and positive thinking with global sleep quality. Science Reports. 2022;12(1):3624.
  8. Boselie JJLM, Peters ML. Shifting the perspective: how positive thinking can help diminish the negative effects of pain. Scandinavian Journal of Pain. 2023;23(3):452-63.
  9. Wong SS. Negative thinking versus positive thinking in a Singaporean student sample: Relationships with psychological well-being and psychological maladjustment. Learning and Individual Differences. 2012;22(1):76-82.
  10. Gale CR, Mõttus R, Deary IJ, et al. Personality and risk of frailty: the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing. Annals of Behavioral Medicine. 2017;51(1):128-36.
  11. Rozanski A, Bavishi C, Kubzansky LD, et al. Association of optimism with cardiovascular events and all-cause mortality: A systematic review and meta-analysis. JAMA Network Open. 2019;2(9):e1912200.
  12. Kim ES, Hagan KA, Grodstein F, et al. Optimism and cause-specific mortality: A prospective cohort study. American Journal of Epidemiology. 2017;185(1):21-29.
  13. Boyraz G, Lightsey OR Jr.Can positive thinking help? Positive automatic thoughts as moderators of the stress-meaning relationship. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry. 2012;82(2):267-77.
  14. Paganini-Hill A, Kawas CH, Corrada MM.Positive mental attitude associated with lower 35-year mortality: The Leisure World Cohort Study. Journal of Aging Research. 2018;2018:2126368.
  15. Bates TC. The Glass is Half Fulland Half Empty: A population-representative twin study testing if optimism and pessimism are distinct systems. Journal of Positive Psychology. 2015;10(6):533-542.
  16. Young LM, Pipingas A, White DJ, et al. A systematic review and meta-analysis of B vitamin supplementation on depressive symptoms, anxiety, and stress: Effects on healthy and ‘at-risk’ individuals. 2019;11(9):2232.
  17. Yoshitake T, Yoshitake S, Kehr J. The Ginkgo biloba extract EGb 761(R) and its main constituent flavonoids and ginkgolides increase extracellular dopamine levels in the rat prefrontal cortex. British Journal of Pharmacology. 2010;159(3):659-68.
  18. Kim HY, Huang BX, Spector AA. Phosphatidylserine in the brain: metabolism and function. Progress in Lipid Research. 2014;56:1-18.
  19. Mittal R, Debs LH, Patel AP, et al. Neurotransmitters: The critical modulators regulating gut-brain axis. Journal of Cell Physiology. 2017;232(9):2359-72.
  20. Yong SJ, Tong T, Chew J, et al. Antidepressive mechanisms of probiotics and their therapeutic potential. Frontiers in Neuroscience. 202014;13:1361.
  21. Marotta A, Sarno E, Del Casale A, et al. Effects of probiotics on cognitive reactivity, mood, and sleep quality. Frontiers in Psychiatry. 2019;10:164.
  22. Positive thinking: Stop negative self-talk to reduce stress. Mayo Clinic. 2023.
  23. Bennett MP, Lengacher C. Humor and laughter may influence health IV. Humor and immune Function. Evidenced Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2009;6(2):159-64.
  24. Emmons RA, McCullough ME. Counting blessings versus burdens: an experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 2003;84(2):377-89.

This article is for informational purposes only. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.