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Empowered Patients Make Things Happen

The hundreds of studies I reviewed and explain in my book all point to certain specific behaviors and activities that consistently correlate with wellbeing and better health outcomes. The first is autonomy, which refers to courageously taking action to make things happen. Empowered patients have an internal locus of control; in other words, their motivation comes from within rather than from someone else telling them they should do a certain thing. These people have self-efficacy, meaning that they have the confidence to trust that the actions they take will actually make a positive difference in the outcome. Self-acceptance is also common to patients who do well; this is due to the fact that self-critical judgements increase stress whereas self-acceptance reduces it. Authenticity and authentic self-expression are common to those who do well; speaking your truth rather than always trying to be nice and to please others is good for your health and wellbeing. Psychological flexibility, which is another way of describing resilience, means that when things go wrong, a resilient person is quick to recover; like the other attributes, resilience can be cultivated over time. Openhearted people seem to have less stress in their lives and one reason may be that openhearted people attract more friends. A second reason may be that a positive attitude, aside from attracting others, makes it easier to manage the daily stress of life. Meaning and purpose are important for health because they provide a sense of aliveness. Last, but probably the single most important is social support; people who maintain strong social ties are simply healthier than people who are more isolated.

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