We may wish some memories could last a lifetime, but many physical and emotional factors can negatively impact our ability to retain information throughout life.
A new study published in the journal Psychological Science found that people who feel enthusiastic and cheerful—what psychologists call “positive affect”—are less likely to experience memory decline as they age. This result adds to a growing body of research on positive affect’s role in healthy aging.
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…
This post is about an experiment of mine. I consider it successful, but I wouldn’t mind hearing your opinion of it. I don’t know how many of you live in a high rise building, but I do and my experiment has everything to do with just that.
I live in a high rise building and own a dog. I have to walk my dog three times a day out doors. In my building dogs have to ride on the ‘service elevators’ rather than the regular ones. My building has more than 50 stories and there are two service elevators. Often one of them is ‘locked off’ for movers, or other maintenance needs. So, it is not surprising that I often find myself waiting several minutes for an elevator to take the dog for her walk. The area in which I wait for the service elevator is about 16 feet long and eight feet wide.
This is not my building, but you get the idea. Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com
*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!
The following study was written up by Anne Trafton of the MIT News office.
Many patients with neuropsychiatric disorders such as anxiety or depression experience negative moods that lead them to focus on the possible downside of a given situation more than the potential benefit.
MIT neuroscientists have found that stimulating part of the striatum can induce feelings of pessimism. (Anatomography/Life Science Databases)
MIT neuroscientists have now pinpointed a brain region that can generate this type of pessimistic mood. In tests in animals, they showed that stimulating this region, known as the caudate nucleus, induced animals to make more negative decisions: They gave far more weight to the anticipated drawback of a situation than its benefit, compared to when the region was not stimulated. This pessimistic decision-making could continue through the day after the original stimulation. Continue reading →
You’re taking a 12-question biology test. You get 10 questions right and 2 questions wrong. You decide, “I’m stupid.” You tell a joke that your friends don’t quite get. You decide, “I always play the fool.” Your boyfriend breaks up with you. You decide, “I’m unlovable.”
When we lack self acceptance we bully ourselves into a rigid pursuit of perfectionism. We mercilessly judge, critique and flog ourselves into an impossible quest that dooms us to failure, guarantees unhappiness, and even induces physical and mental health problems. According to Richard Holden’s book, “Happiness Now!”, “Happiness and self acceptance go hand in hand.”
HERE ARE SOME SUGGESTIONS FOR FINDING SELF ACCEPTANCE:
LAUD YOUR STRENGTHS Many people scrutinize perceived weakness and are dismissive of their strengths. The more we think about these shortcomings, the more ingrained they become, until they cast a long shadow over our merits. You can focus on your virtues…
Let’s do a roll call: who here has been giving themselves a hard time lately? If this is you, it’s time to cut yourself some slack! You may not realize it, but there are countless things you accomplish every day that are absolutely praiseworthy.
No, really! If we don’t give ourselves credit for the small stuff, how can we feel comfortable patting on ourselves when we accomplish something massive?
The next time you start doubting yourself and your capabilities, reflect on this list as a reminder of all that you do that is right as rain. And give yourself some credit – you really deserve it.
1. Catching Some ZZZs
Getting enough sleep every night is not an easy feat! Whether we’re a working parent of triplets or someone who is struggling with managing their anxiety levels, the fact that we get as many ZZZs as we can is a…
Keeping your mind and body in tip-top shape is essential for living your best life. It’s difficult to attain success when you’re dragging yourself through the day, feeling stressed out, anxious, and generally unwell. That’s why you need to make yourself a priority. Focusing on your wellness is not selfish, it’s necessary for you to be able to give your best self to others. The Cheat Sheet spoke with six leading health experts about the best health advice they’ve ever received.
1. Let go of unforgiveness
Learn to forgive! At the heart of many chronic diseases is stress. At the heart of much stress is a lack of forgiveness. Not being able to let go of the past produces a lot of stress in our lives. This stress increases the incidence of hypertension, heart disease, cancer, and more.
Have you ever wondered why some people remain upbeat and positive despite the chaos that surrounds them while others are utterly miserable even in good times? What explains the difference between these two groups of individuals?
Are happy people just lucky people born happy? And unhappy people born miserable? Or is happiness a choice we make day by day, moment to moment?
The answer to this question is mixed. On one hand, 50% of happiness is predetermined by biology (e.g., inborn temperament) while the remaining 50% is influenced by life circumstances and intentional activities.
The Happiness Formula
As stated above, research indicates that approximately 50% of happiness is genetic (e.g., temperament), 10% is life circumstances (e.g., income), and 40% is intentional activities (e.g., daily exercise, meditation, forgiveness).
Though we may have little control over genetics and/or life circumstances — we do have personal agency when it comes…
You probably know that exercise and diet are important when it comes to aging well. But there is something else you control that can help you along: a positive attitude.
Research shows more and more that your approach to life may be just as important in making your “golden years” your best years.
Aging: It’s in Your Mind
Growing older brings with it some natural changes (think those creaky knees). But folks who see good years ahead and who don’t accept stereotypes about aging — such as you’re less useful — may actually live longer.
And there’s science to back that up.
One study found that thinking positively about getting older can extend lifespan by 7.5 years. And that’s after accounting for things such as gender, wealth, and overall health. Some 660 women and men in Ohio joined this study, and they were monitored for more than 20 years.
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 →