I am gonna go all academic on you today… a little googling and some information you, perhaps like me, need to pay a big of attention to.
So as we age… which, incidentally we do from the moment we take our initial breath, we all have major challenges which are social, mental, emotional, physical, yadda, yadda, yadda… you all know the “drill”. Staying positive and happy isn’t always easy in this lifetime when we are faced with all the “stuff” … it actually probably has never been easy… that is life.
BUT, contrary to popular opinion, aging and a negative attitude don’t go hand in hand. Perhaps you have never really thought about it, but there is a belief out “there” that as a person gets older (which doesn’t at all mean age old… some folks are old in their teens)… they get crabby, cranky, obstinate, judgmental, hard to be with… again the list goes on and on and on. I know folks who were that way in their teens, twenties, thirties, etc. and somehow use aging as an excuse for being unpleasant in their 60s and 70s. No some folks are wired “crabby”.
One large study reported in the Journal of personality and social psychology that as people age, they become happier rather than sadder and are able to regulate emotions more effectively than mourner folks. Even if you are not Mary Sunshine by nature, you can learn to develop a positive overall outlook.
Why bother? Although being optimist isn’t a surefire ticket to living into your hundreds, several studies have shown that pessimism can increase your risk of dying at a younger age. Consider the following studies:
- A study done in the Netherland involving nearly 1,000 participants ages 40-85 showed that people who described themselves as being highly optimistic had a risk of dying that was 55 percent lower than the risk of pessimists during the ten-year study period. The risks of dying form heart disease were 23 percent lower for optimists during the same period.
- The Ohio Longitudinal Study on Aging began in the 1970s with more than 1,100 people and concluded more than 50 years later….. concluded that people with healthy optimism towards life in general lives more than seven years longer than those with a negative attitude.
- The Mayo Clinic reported that when psychological tests given to more than 8000 people were reviewed, pessimistic people were 20 percent more likely to have died in any given year than optimists.
Like everything else, you can carry optimism too far, which can have grave consequences, also. Optimism can lead to a carefree attitude that results in unfortunate, but often avoidable problems resulting from taking risks when taking precautions would be the proper action. Excessive optimism can also lead to an overly trusting attitude and some overly trusting folks have been conned out of large sums of money by individuals or organizations. Again, balance is the key and you have to have the right amount of positive thinking and COMMON sense when it comes to your health, money, friends, relationships, etc.
The bottom line? Being optimistic can help you live longer and happier, but don’t leave common sense at the door.
So I, commonsencally and optimistically will go face my day with this hot cup of coffee in my hand… join me?