Previous research has led to findings that support links between a positive mental outlook and physical health benefits such as lower blood pressure, less heart disease, and healthier blood sugar levels. In a recent study of mood changes in older adults, scientists also have discovered that healthy brain function may result in maintaining a positive outlook.
For this study, which was funded in part by NIA and published in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry in September 2020, scientists proposed a potential neurobiological connection between an older adult’s mood with changes, over a period of time, in white brain matter and cognitive ability. White matter is where information is transmitted from one brain region to another. As we age, changes can occur in the white matter that may lead to thinking, walking, and balance problems.
In a population of relatively young and healthy U.S. Army active-duty soldiers, we found that those who tested highest for optimism at the start of the study had a 22% lower risk of developing hypertension during three-and-a-half years of follow-up than those who scored the lowest. We know that people in the military are more susceptible to early-onset hypertension because of the stressors associated with their jobs (for example, combat exposure), so it was striking to see that much of a protective effect—and also that the finding held for both women and men, and across racial and ethnic groups, according to a Harvard School of Health study that found a link between optimism and hypertension.
We took into account of a lot of other factors that might have explained away the apparent effects of optimism, including number of deployments, smoking, and levels of depression, but none of them substantially altered our key finding. People who are optimistic don’t tend to be depressed, but our analysis further suggests that optimism confirms protection over and above signaling the absence of a risk factor—it’s a positive health asset.
In the study of people aged over 55, published in Alzheimer’s & Dementia, researchers found ‘repetitive negative thinking’ (RNT) is linked to subsequent cognitive decline as well as the deposition of harmful brain proteins linked to Alzheimer’s.
The researchers say RNT should now be further investigated as a potential risk factor for dementia, and psychological tools, such as mindfulness or meditation, should be studied to see if these could reduce dementia risk.
Lead author Dr Natalie Marchant (UCL Psychiatry) said: “Depression and anxiety in mid-life and old age are already known to be risk factors for dementia. Here, we found that certain thinking patterns implicated in depression and anxiety could be an underlying reason why people with those disorders are more likely to develop dementia.
VANCOUVER—A simple shift in attitude could improve a lot for the world’s elderly population, according to a new global study.
That’s because how well we age is connected to how we view old age, the study stated, noting those with a positive attitude toward old age are likely to live longer — up to eight years — than their negative counterparts.
And older people in countries with low levels of respect for seniors are at risk for worse mental and physical health as well as higher levels of poverty, the Orb Media study found. By compiling global data, researchers also surveyed 150,000 people in 101 countries to discover levels of respect for older adults, which varied from country to country.
Canada ranked in the lower third of all for respect, along with Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States.
But one British Columbian expert pointed out that the…
*The great American mythologist Joseph Campbell described the importance of “Following your bliss.” Your dreams will take you on a life-changing and ever-evolving journey that will grow and thrive as you do. And as you live big, they will change and become even better, new dreams replacing and building on the dreams you’ve already achieved.*
Are you doing everything you can to achieve your dreams?
“Living Big” is a mindset of living with abundance. Now the abundance is not what you own, or have, it is what you share. There are as many wonderful ways to Living Big as there are water drops in an ocean, needles on an evergreen tree, grains of sand on a beach.Living Big is learning to generously share yourself, your stories, and enjoy the exciting connections that develop. It’s putting yourself out into the world and embracing the things that once scared you. It can change your life and increase your happiness and even your self-assuredness. There are people who are too afraid to put themselves out there, but this is the key to Living Big and making it work for you, so it’s important to learn how to do it!
As regular readers know, I feel very strongly about positive psychology. I stumbled across it some years ago and it certainly moved my life to a higher plane. You can read more about it at the end of this post. In the meantime, I wanted to share this nice write up from Harvard Health Publications.
A growing body of research indicates that optimism — a sense everything will be OK — is linked to a reduced risk of developing mental or physical health issues as well as to an increased chance of a longer life.
One of the largest such studies was led by researchers Dr. Kaitlin Hagan and Dr. Eric Kim at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Their team analyzed data from 70,000 women in the Nurses’ Health Study, and found that women who were optimistic had a significantly reduced risk of dying from several major causes of death over an eight-year period, compared with women who were less optimistic. The most optimistic women had a 16% lower risk of dying from cancer; 38% lower risk of dying from heart disease; 39% lower risk of dying from stroke; 38% lower risk of dying from respiratory disease; and 52% lower risk of dying from infection.
Yes, you can acquire optimism.
Even if you consider yourself a pessimist, there’s hope.Dr. Hagan notes that a few simple changes can help people improve your outlook on life. Previous studies have shown that optimism can be instilled by something as simple as having people think about the best possible outcomes in various areas of their lives,” she says. The following may help you see the world through rosier glasses: Continue reading →
In an effort to keep as many foreign substances outside of my circulatory system, I take as few drugs as possible. Since I suffer from arthritis of the hands, I have to resist the temptation to get into painkillers daily. I fear the side effects more than my hands hurting.
No respecter of age, arthritis pain can strike in numerous places.
The following techniques can help you take your mind off the pain and may help to override established pain signals.
1. Deep breathing. It’s central to all the techniques, so deep breathing is the one to learn first. Inhale deeply, hold for a few seconds, and exhale. To help you focus, you can use a word or phrase to guide you. For example, you may want to breathe in “peace” and breathe out “tension.” There are also several apps for smartphones and tablets that use sound and images to help you maintain breathing rhythms. Continue reading →
The Challenge: We often assume our abilities and behaviors cannot (or are too hard to) be changed.
The Science: You are, indeed, capable of change! It’s all about the way we look at it!
The Solution: Cultivating a growth mindset can create positive change and new opportunities in your life!
We are often taught from a young age and through a variety of influences that ability is fixed. Either we’re smart or we’re not. We’re athletic or we’re not. We’re artistic or we’re not. And certainly, we all differ to some extent in the types of things that seem to come more naturally to us.
Sometimes we’re standing in our own way
The problem is, this way of thinking can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. For example, if a young child does poorly on a math test and thinks “I failed this test because I’m not good at math,” she is…
The Challenge: We all want to find inner peace and perform at our best -how can we do it? The Science: Hope is a little-known secret to getting ahead and improving well-being! The Solution: Implementing a hopeful mindset in life gives you 5 serious advantages!
Psychologists have proposed lots of different vehicles to success over the years. Grit, conscientiousness, self-efficacy, optimism, passion, inspiration, etc. They are all important. One vehicle, however, is particularly undervalued and underappreciated in psychology and society. That’s hope.
Hope often gets a bad rap. For some, it conjures up images of a blissfully naïve chump pushing up against a wall with a big smile. That’s a shame. Cutting-edge science shows that hope, at least as defined by psychologists, matters a lot.
Here are 5 reasons hope gives you a serious advantage:
Hope Gives You Willpower
Why is hope important? Well, life is difficult. There are many…
Reframe your frustrations. Researchers at the University of Kent in England found that people who strived to see the positive side of things that went wrong – rather than venting to friends about what went wrong, or blaming themselves for small failures – were happier and more satisfied at the end of the day.
Perspective is everything, and you can learn to change a negative outlook.
By Colleen Oakley WebMD Magazine – Feature Reviewed by Patricia A. Farrell, PhD
Think happy thoughts. Find the silver lining. Look on the bright side.
Rolling your eyes yet? Alexandra Hruz is. She’s a 27-year-old self-proclaimed pessimist who lives in Chattanooga, TN. “When people are overly optimistic, it’s much easier to be let down by circumstances,” she says. “I don’t think the world is going to end tomorrow, but I also don’t like to hang my hopes on things working out on their own, simply by the power of positive thinking.”
But experts say positive thinking has serious benefits that go beyond a perky attitude. According to a recent study from the University of Pittsburgh, women who expect good things to happen have a 30% lower risk for heart disease.
“There’s a lot of psychological research linking pro-social behaviors to better health,” she said. “Gratitude, for example, has been linked to lower impulsivity, higher salaries, better sleep and stronger relationships. And this strikes me as yet another study that reinforces an intuitive knowledge that probably most people have that our mind and body are linked.”
Study of more than 5,100 adults found a strong correlation between the two.
Accenting the positive may be good for your heart, with a large study suggesting that optimistic people seem to have a significant leg up when it comes to cardiovascular health.
“Research has already shown a link between psychological pathology and poor physical health,” said study lead author Rosalba Hernandez, an assistant professor in the school of social work at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. “So we decided to look at whether there’s also a link between psychological well-being and good physical health.
“And by looking at optimism as a measure of psychological well-being, we found that after adjusting all sorts of socio-economic factors — like education, income and even mental health — people who are the most optimistic do have higher odds of being in ideal cardiovascular health, compared with the least optimistic,” she added.
Sometimes we can get in our own way when it comes to health and happiness. This infographic shows some excellent examples of common everyday mistakes that put in front of our own well being as well as the antidote for each.
The researchers found that participants’ positive well-being was associated with a one-third reduction in coronary events; among those deemed at the highest risk for a coronary event, there was nearly a 50 percent reduction. The findings took into account other heart disease risk factors such as age, smoking, diabetes, high cholesterol levels and high blood pressure. To read more on this subject, type in happiness, relaxation, stress and positive psychology in the search box at the right. Tony
Johns Hopkins researchers link positive outlook to reduction in cardiac events such as heart attacks
People with cheerful temperaments are significantly less likely to suffer a coronary event such as a heart attack or sudden cardiac death, new Johns Hopkins research suggests.
Previous research has shown that depressed and anxious people are more likely to have heart attacks and to die from them than those whose dispositions are sunnier. But the Johns Hopkins researchers say their study shows that a general sense of well-being — feeling cheerful, relaxed, energetic and satisfied with life — actually reduces the chances of a heart attack.
A report on the research is published in the American Journal of Cardiology.
“If you are by nature a cheerful person and look on the bright side of things, you are more likely to be protected from cardiac events,” says study leader Lisa R. Yanek, M.P.H., an assistant…