“Only those who have mastered the art of happiness can prosper and progress. The happy spirit sees no obstacles, is not blinded by gloom, and invokes the strength and ambition that surmounts all difficulties and gains success.”
Elizabeth Jane Cochran
Journalist Nellie Bly
Elizabeth Jane Cochran embodied the words she wrote under her pen name, Nellie Bly. With no formal education or financial backing, Nellie’s drive and willingness to accept challenges made her the most well-known woman journalist in America in the 1880s.
More than one hundred years ago, Elizabeth believed that a happy, positive attitude gave one the strength to endure life’s difficulties as well as overcome them. Her belief has been supported by modern scientific studies.
Positive psychology researcher Suzanne Segerstrom states, "… a number of studies show that optimists are in general both psychologically and physiologically healthier." The Mayo Clinic believes that “positive thinking that typically comes with optimism is a key part of effective stress management and effective stress management is associated with many health benefits."
If you are not a natural positive thinker, how do you begin to develop the ability? Start with one area of your life that you feel negative about. For instance, are you annoyed that you are not as mobile as you would like? Move your thoughts from “I can’t do …” to “is there something I can do?”
Make a list of possible actions:
  • Talk with a healthcare provider about your concerns
  • Take an exercise class to improve mobility
  • Find a support group
  • Find activities/hobbies that fit your mobility
  • Laugh more often, it increases your happiness quotient
  • Be kind to yourself, change takes time
  • Stop trying to solve problems and look instead for ways to improve situations
The above steps can be modified for any aspect of your life to combine positive action with positive thought. Last but certainly not least, heed Elizabeth’s advice, as valid today as it was in her lifetime. “Don’t be a grouch, and waste life; don’t be disgruntled and dissatisfied; don’t be a growler; don’t be a crank."