Have you ever wondered whether or not there are any tangible, long term benefits associated with having a positive outlook? Does our attitude really affect our health as some have claimed, or is this just one of those scenarios that sound reasonable but can’t be proven.
Science meets the challenge
The BBC reported on a long term study conducted by the prestigious Mayo Clinic aimed at finding the answers to those very questions.
Between 1962 and 1965 they interviewed more than 1,100 patients and gave each of them an optimism ranking based on their perception of life. Then they tracked those people for the next 30 years to see if they could identify any noticeable differences.
What did they find?
The Mayo Clinic researchers discovered that those with the highest optimism ranking had a 19% better chance of still being alive. Think of the implications here, 19% is huge. Other than restricted calorie intake, no other single protocol has been able to produce such significant results.
In response to these findings, one of the staff psychiatrists said: “It confirmed our commonsense belief. It tells us mind and body are linked and that attitude has an impact on the final outcome, death.” This statement is further supported by a Yale University researchers statement that: ‘Positive self-perceptions can prolong life expectancy’.
The benefits are twofold
What do these findings mean for us and do they have any practical application? First of all, there’s the immediate positive effect of adopting a more optimistic attitude, namely, increased happiness. Yes, optimistic people tend to experience greater joy on a day-to-day basis than their pessimistic counterparts. Everyone wants to be happy and this is a huge step in the right direction.
Secondly, the prospect of a longer healthier life is a scientifically proven benefit of an attitude based on positivity. In contrast, a negative, pessimistic mindset has been shown to contribute to scores of health challenges including immune disorders, cancer, and heart problems. All other factors being equal, a happier life means a healthier life.
Click here for 10 Practical steps to a more optimistic attitude