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10 Things to Do to Improve Your Attitude

Updated on March 23, 2019
PAINTDRIPS profile image

As a Baby-Boomer, Denise and millions of others are becoming senior citizens. She explores what it means to be over 60 today.

Charcoal drawing of my friend Lupe who is over 70.
Charcoal drawing of my friend Lupe who is over 70. | Source

A Positive Attitude

There are so many things that can bring your attitude and mood down: just the current news headlines can do it. Family, health, weather and so much more can kill a good attitude. However, the doctors say that good health is as much a matter of good attitude as it is in physical wellness. Cancer patients are instructed to keep their mood up as much as possible while fighting the disease. One doctor told us that a good attitude was 50% of the battle. How do you do that?

I have a few methods that have helped at my home and I am willing to share them.

The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.

— William James

1. Soothing Uplifting Music

There is nothing like music to soothe the savage breast. When was the last time you heard a favorite tune and couldn’t stop yourself from singing along? How often have you heard some old melody that cheered you and brought images of a pleasanter time? The truth is that I have a few favorites that will also bring a tear to my eye because they are associated with a time and a sad memory. The key to uplifting attitude changers is to keep the music soothing and filled with happy memories.

In a study published in the Journal of American Medicine, children showed less distress and less pain during routine medical procedures while listening to music. Another study showed music therapy was useful in treating depression and some studies report it helps reduce high blood pressure as well. I believe that to be true. I know I always feel calmer and more clear thinking when listening to soothing instrumental music.

Before a child talks they sing. Before they write they draw. As soon as they stand they dance. Art is fundamental to human expression.

— Phylicia Rashad
Piano music is very soothing
Piano music is very soothing | Source

2. Yoga

Before this last year, I would have found the addition of yoga to my routine for a positive attitude to be of questionable benefit. However, after following a beginner’s routine for the past few months and having felt the value for myself, I can no longer argue. Unlike aerobic exercise, which I have tried in the past, it is calming and yet strengthening for my muscles. I have to face it. I’m getting older and spending more time in my chair than is good for me. The inclusion of this basic yoga exercise has made a huge difference in my health and mood. I feel better about myself in general and happier when I finish my routine each morning. My mind feels clearer and ready for my day to begin. Also, I am not afraid of getting down on the floor as I am much stronger to get up again; something that was problematic before I began.

Studies have shown yoga to decrease stress, help alleviate anxiety, improve health, fight depression, improve breathing, and reduce chronic pain. In my case, the improved balance is of the utmost importance as well and improved quality sleep. Actually, I think that many kinds of exercise bring all these benefits but yoga fits with my life right now and works for me.

I love when the yoga instructor I follow says to lift my heart to the sky. She means to arch my back lift my chest, but the idea of lifting my heart actually lifts my heart.

Dedicate 30 Day Challenge Yoga With Adriene

It is neither wealth nor splendor, but tranquility and occupation, which give you happiness.

— Thomas Jefferson

3. Sunshine

It is well known in my home that long grey winters are depressing. My doctor has prescribed extra vitamin D because of my lack of exposure to sunshine. The truth is that as we grow older, our skin’s ability to process sunlight into the necessary vitamin D is lessened. However, beyond the vitamin requirements, a change of scenery every day is necessary to promote good mood and lift the attitude. Even a short walk for 10 minutes in the sunshine can improve the mood considerably.

One medical report says that the winter blues is a condition that happens because serotonin is not being produced in enough quantities to maintain a cheerful attitude. Medical reports aside, I know I always feel the positive effects of fresh air and sunshine on my face even in these brisk waning winter months.

People don’t notice whether it’s winter or summer when they’re happy.

— Anton Chekhov
Collage of my cousin Jessie sitting in the sun.
Collage of my cousin Jessie sitting in the sun. | Source

4. Play

Who knows about sheer happiness more than children? They seem to make even the simplest things a time of great enjoyment and pleasure. At my home, even mealtime became a game. I tried to discourage my delicate daughters from playing “See food” at the table, but it still made me laugh when they did it. (They often got me with this game. Someone would announce Sea Food? And I would reply, “no we are having chicken..” to which they would all open their mouths and show me the partially chewed “see food”. )

Have you noticed how many YouTubers publish home videos of their cats doing some cute, funny, playful thing? It often goes viral because cats can be so entertaining when they are playing. Why do we love to watch that so much? I think it naturally registers with the playful side of all of us. I know it makes my day when I have had a good belly laugh from one of those silly cat antic videos.

5. Hugs

I can’t think of anything that does my heart good more than a good hug. I’ve always been a hugger. My mother used to say I hugged so much and wanted hugs so often that it made her uncomfortable. I had no idea. Some people just aren’t huggers at heart. Still, I think a hug is a warm, wordless affirmation that everyone needs from time to time.

According to a 2015 study by researchers from Carnegie Mellon University examining the benefits of hugging, they found beyond lowering stress and high blood pressure, it actually lowered the susceptibility to the common cold after being exposed to the virus. The researchers attribute the benefits to the release of oxytocin into the bloodstream, which influences mood, behavior, and physiology, lowers blood pressure, reduces depression and anxiety, and increases pain tolerance.

I could say I always knew the benefits without knowing all the reasons. If you haven’t had a hug in a while, you should hug it out with a friend today. You’ll be in a better mood for it, and healthier as well.

Collage of friends
Collage of friends | Source

We can bring positive energy into our daily lives by smiling more, talking to strangers in line, replacing handshakes with hugs, and calling our friends just to tell them we love them.

— Brandon Jenner

6. Conversation

I like to meet with a certain good friend often over coffee. We chat about nothing and everything. I always go away feeling wonderful. Why is that? Friendship is cathartic, yes, but chatting is also. Maybe that’s why so many people get something out of just talking to themselves. Even if you feel silly about it when caught, don’t you talk to yourself? There is something about voicing your thoughts aloud that helps the mood.

The researchers Epley and Schroeder conducted a series of studies in 2014 about the benefits of chatting with strangers during travels. The question was it of any benefit to talk with strangers. What they found was that people found talking with a stranger more pleasant than sitting quietly alone. They found people felt a boost from chatting and even felt the same feel-good emotion you get from being helpful. The data showed that developing friendly neighborhood connections seemed to give better mental and social health. It boosts your sense of affirmation and acceptance as most people engaging in small talk are being polite and on their best behavior. Strangers make you see with a new perspective, opening the world outside yourself. However, the studies show that interactions with friends and partners help confidence and mood far more than with strangers.

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.

— Maya Angelou

More On Conversation

It is probably this very thing that seems to perpetuate online chatrooms and social media. People seem to get the same boost from chatting online as they do in person. Maybe even more so, since social media is semi-anonymous being that you do not have to show your true self there. Caution should be used when talking to faceless people on social media, but it is understandable that online chats will not go away anytime soon.

According to psychologists Gary Lupyan of the University of Wisconsin Madison and Daniel Swingley of the University of Pennsylvania in a study they conducted, talking aloud to yourself invariably increases focus and thought organization, as well as reducing stress levels. I always feel that when I am looking for some elusive object in my home. Apparently talking aloud has the same therapeutic advantages of journaling. It makes sense to me. You can voice your thoughts and concerns without risk of judgment and contradiction. It helps to release pent-up emotion and keeps you positive. How great is that? It isn’t just momentary dementia after all.

A true friend is the greatest of all blessings, and that which we take the least care of all to acquire.

— Francois de La Rochefoucauld
Collage of Agave
Collage of Agave | Source

7. House Plants

I’ve known for a long time that plants give you a positive charge, flowers particularly. My mother used to raise African Violets on the kitchen window ledge when I was growing up. The soft color greeting me each morning and soft fuzzy leaves were a source of joy for me as a little girl. Apparently, they were my mother’s joy as well. According to a University of Agriculture in Norway study, indoor plants can reduce fatigue, coughs, sore throats and other cold-related illnesses by more than 30 percent. It is well known that plants release oxygen and filter carbon dioxide from the air, but they also increase humidity levels and decrease dust and toxins from the air around them. This alone would make them highly beneficial.

According to studies houseplants can make you calmer and feel a more optimistic sense of well being. Bruno Cortis, M.D., a Chicago cardiologist says that patients in hospitals who face garden-view windows often recover more quickly than those facing a wall. Of course, having a purpose like caring for a plant or a pet helps decrease depression and loneliness. I find that a lot of people defeat the positive purpose of plants by claiming that they have “black thumbs” and kill anything in a pot. That type of defeatists talk will kill the benefits of a houseplant even before you begin. Try a hardy plant to start with and work your way to more difficult plants like African Violets. Each plant you keep alive will bolster your confidence and increase your mood.

Flowers are restful to look at. They have neither emotions nor conflicts.

— Sigmund Freud

8. Good Sleep

This one seems like a no-brainer but many people avoid sleep in this work-till-you-drop society we have created. It starts in college with those all-night cramming sessions and lives on into bad work habits.

The truth is depression and lack of sleep often go hand-in-hand. Beyond feeling refreshed with a good night’s sleep, your memory is improved as well as creativity and positivity. A 2010 study found that higher heart attack risk was present in people who got six or fewer hours of sleep a night. Research shows that people who sleep less than six hours per night have higher levels of inflammatory proteins in their blood and are at risk for heart disease, stroke, diabetes, arthritis, and premature aging. All good reasons to get a good night’s sleep.

Sleep affects the quality of life. You live longer, feel better, approach tasks with more positivity, have less stress, and have more creativity. A good way to start the day.

Collage of Sleeping Beauty
Collage of Sleeping Beauty | Source

9. Aromatherapy

I’ve seen it everywhere: aromatherapy for stress relief, for good health, for good sleep, etc. But does it really work? If you are in your 60’s like I am, you have probably been introduced to aromatherapy decades ago without the fancy name. Who hasn’t been around incense burners in the ’70s or cool smelly candles in the ’80s? My mother used to love crafts of all kinds and even had a candle making kit back in the ’80s. She made candles for all of us using paraffin and aroma scents. Without knowing the particular benefits for each, I had lavender, rose, lemon and rosemary smells permeating my home from my early 20’s.

I always thought that cinnamon was a great mood stimulant because of the Snickerdoodles my grandmother would make. Have you ever walked into a home where cookies are baking and immediately have feelings of euphoria? I know I have and I always thought that the Snickerdoodles smelled better than they tasted somehow.

According to the studies, rosemary is associated with feelings of contentment and effects performance and mood. It is also known to reduce stress. Lavender is associated with feelings of contentment as well but has the extra benefit of promoting sleep and feelings of calm. Peppermint has been found to increase alertness. Lemon is a good choice for stress relief and mood enhancement. There are many essential oil distributors out there with more choices but it is true that smells trigger feelings and moods. Fill your home with good ones for better mood and attitudes.

Laughter

10. Laughter

It is true that laughter is the sweetest medicine of the mind. It is a powerful antidote to stress, pain, and conflict. Studies show laughter triggers the release of endorphins and give the whole body a sense of well-being and even temporary relief of pain. It improves blood flow, burns calories, relaxes the whole body, and boosts the immune system. A study done in Norway found that people with a strong sense of humor outlived those who don’t laugh as much. On top of bringing a little joy, it improves your mood and eases anxiety and tension. These are all good reasons to go watch an old Oliver and Hardy movie or any good comedy. I know I always feel good after a great belly laugh. My husband and I have been revisiting old episodes of the 1960's Rowan and Martin Laugh-In. It's still funny!

The studies show laughter is beneficial for mental health as well as physical. I know my perspective and outlook on life is more optimistic after a good comedy where I laughed for an extended period. To me a movie that claims to be a comedy but I only chuckled once or twice isn’t a good comedy. I go to a comedy to really laugh, don’t you?

The most wasted day of all is that on which we have not laughed.

— Nicolas Chamfort

Agree?

Let me know if you agree or disagree with any of these points. I'd love to hear if you have any further suggestions for positive attitudes.

Comments

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    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      3 months ago from Fresno CA

      It's really hard to keep a good attitude when you are struggling with everyday stresses and obligations. Even when I know what to do, I have to force myself to look up, breath deep, and keep the faith. I don't pretend to know it all. I'm working on it, like everyone else.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      4 months ago from Fresno CA

      Wow, Lawrence, I didn't know that about UV lighting although, I believe it. Sunlight is so important, especially for regions that don't get much of it during the winter months. Thanks for sharing that.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 

      4 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Denise

      I'd agree with every point on your list, though I personally haven't used Yoga, I have used meditation (and Prayer).

      For Music, I used to listen to Mozart when studying, and whenever I hear him being played I still think back to the enjoyment I used to feel even when studying.

      I also used to live in Scandinavia and there during winter companies have to have UV lighting installed as it's recognised that exposure to UV lighting will affect your mood in a good way, then again you only get about two hours of sunlight in Winter.

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      5 months ago from Fresno CA

      Mary,

      Thank you so much. I truly love doing collages. It is one of my most relaxing activities. I'm so happy you like them. Thanks for commenting.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      5 months ago from Ontario, Canada

      I agree with all these and truly appreciate how much they have improved my life. I love your art especially the collages.

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      5 months ago from Fresno CA

      Thank you so much, Glenis. I hope you have a positive, joy-filled day.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • profile image

      Glenis Rix 

      5 months ago

      All good advice and wonderful art work. Enjoyed.

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      5 months ago from Fresno CA

      Dora Weithers,

      I enjoyed that too, especially the "Rose" joke. A day without laughter is a waste, isn't it? I think God invented laughter to give us joy and healing, and maybe to learn humility, while laughing at ourselves.

      Thanks for commenting.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      5 months ago from The Caribbean

      These are all good. Stuck on laughter. Watched the Ted Talks. Powerful!

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      5 months ago from Fresno CA

      Lorna Lamon,

      Thank you for your kind words and comment.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      5 months ago from Fresno CA

      Oh Mary, dear, you made me laugh with the cleaning under the bed comment. I do think the downward facing dog position is a little undignified but I can't deny that I have had much less trouble with my wrists which I thought were suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome. Does that mean that all I needed was to put more pressure on my wrists, not less? I don't know. I wouldn't have thought that yoga could help but so far it has. I only do the yoga about 5 days a week not every day like Adriene suggests in the video, however, she does say that you should go it at your own pace even if it takes you 365 days to finish the 30-day challenge. Thanks so much for commenting.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • Lorna Lamon profile image

      Lorna Lamon 

      5 months ago

      This is a great article - really uplifting and so very true.

    • Blond Logic profile image

      Mary Wickison 

      5 months ago from Brazil

      Yes I do agree, even about the Snickerdoodles! Why do they smell better than they taste?

      For me online conversations have been a God send. Because I live in a non English speaking country, I have become isolated. I do listen to music, and comedy routines, as a way to uplift myself.

      I love the quotes you have selected.

      I do have to disagree with the Yoga. I found it too stressful. Every time I was in the downward facing dog position, I could see I needed to clean under the bed! LOL

      I will give it a shot with the video you uploaded, as like you, it's often difficult to get up and I too spend too much time in a chair.

      Great read and wonderful ideas.

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