Flex Your Mental Muscles for Healthy Aging

optimistic man

Researchers have uncovered some good news for everyone determined to age well, and you can use this information to your advantage without spending a dime. All it requires is some awareness and repetition of some “successful aging” mental practices.

Scientists are now mapping the brain pathways responsible for successful aging. They have discovered that a bias toward positive thinking and an optimistic outlook may result in more emotional control and stability, and ultimately more resilience as we age. The part of the brain called the rostral anterior cingulate cortex has been linked to the ability to maintain emotional control and to minimizing the aging effects of stress and negativity.

What does this mean for you? Learning how to control your attention and focus may actually help you age more gracefully. Pessimism and a tendency to focus on the negative aspects of life have been linked to premature aging and poor health. Here are three tips to help build your mental muscles for healthy aging.

Focus on the short term: Focus more heavily on short-term rather than long-term issues and priorities. A more short-term focus may mitigate against harmful effects of stress, provide more effective and direct solutions to problems and challenges, and increase optimistic thinking.

Keep it real: Make realistic assessments of issues and focus on positive elements that are within your control rather than negative elements that are not. Get in the habit of making a quick mental list of evidence supporting your beliefs and assumptions. If you’re lacking evidence, approach with curiosity rather than a mission to prove a point to yourself or someone else.

Remember the glass is half full: Be conscious of trying to approach all situations with a positive attitude. Ask yourself: Is there a bright side to be seen? Being proactive rather than reactive can help bolster optimism and create feelings of empowerment and control. Try to take action first, rather than waiting until things happen and then determining your response.