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A Do You Assume Success?

Point to Ponder:

How would someone describe your attitude? Positive or negative/optimistic or pessimistic?

While the benefits of optimism and positive thinking are no longer cutting edge news, new research is proving that the effects of positive thinking and optimism can be the difference between a flourishing, healthy and long life, or not. Having recently gotten a hold of some powerful facts about optimism, positivity and resiliency from the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania, coupled with iGnite Fundatmental #15 “Be Positive- You have the power to choose your attitude. Choose to be joyful, optimistic and enthusiastic. Give people the benefit of the doubt. Your attitude is contagious . Spread optimism and positive energy", I was interested in researching why adopting a positive attitude and optimistic outlook is critical to our well-being and resiliency.

Per the University of Penn Positive Psychology Center, they found that one of the keys to living a positive and optimistic life is having relationships. In fact, loneliness is proving to be a greater health risk than obesity, and for the men in our lives, pessimistic men have a 42% greater chance of dying than optimistic men. Next month we'll talk more about the importance of relationships but until then, let's support and encourage the men we love with optimism.

With no one person being completely optimistic or pessimistic, optimism is absolutely something we all need to strive for, especially if you are wanting to avoid infections, high blood pressure, inflammation and overall disease (remember... inflammation causes disease and aging). Check out the facts, according to a Harvard Health Publication on Optimism and Your Health:

  • A series of studies from the U.S. and Europe found that optimism does indeed help people cope with disease and recover from surgery. Even more impressive is the impact of a positive outlook on overall health and longevity. Research tells us that an optimistic outlook early in life can predict better health and a lower rate of death during follow-up periods of 15 to 40 years.

  • In one study, doctors evaluated 309 middle-aged patients who were scheduled to undergo coronary artery bypass surgery. In addition to a complete pre-operative physical exam, each patient underwent a psychological evaluation designed to measure optimism, depression, neuroticism, and self-esteem. The researchers tracked all the patients for six months after surgery. When they analyzed the data, they found that optimists were only half as likely as pessimists to require re-hospitalization.

  • In a study of 298 angioplasty patients, optimism was also protective; over a six-month period, pessimists were three times more likely than optimists to have heart attacks or require repeat angioplasties or bypass operations.

  • An American study of 2,564 men and women who were 65 and older also found that optimism is good for blood pressure. On average, the people with the most positive emotions had the lowest blood pressures.Researchers used a four-item positive-emotion summary scale to evaluate each participant during a home visit. They also measured blood pressure, height, and weight and collected information about age, marital status, alcohol use, diabetes, and medication. Even after taking these other factors into account, people with positive emotions had lower blood pressures than those with a negative outlook.

  • Optimism appears to protect the heart and circulation — and it's heartening to learn that it can have similar benefits for overall health. A large, short-term study evaluated the link between optimism and overall health in 2,300 older adults. Over two years, people who had a positive outlook were much more likely to stay healthy and enjoy independent living than their less cheerful peers.

  • The first American study evaluated 839 people in the early 1960s, performing a psychological test for optimism/pessimism as well as a complete medical evaluation. When the people were rechecked 30 years later, optimism was linked to longevity; for every 10-point increase in pessimism on the optimism–pessimism test, the mortality rate rose 19%.

  • A newer U.S. study looked at 6,959 students who took a comprehensive personality test when they entered the University of North Carolina in the mid-1960s. During the next 40 years, 476 of the people died from a variety of causes, with cancer being the most common. All in all, pessimism took a substantial toll; the most pessimistic individuals had a 42% higher rate of death than the most optimistic.

  • A 2008 study of 2,873 healthy men and women found that a positive outlook on life was linked to lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol, even after taking age, employment, income, ethnicity, obesity, smoking, and depression into account. In women, but not men, a sunny disposition was also associated with lower levels of two markers of inflammation (C-reactive protein and interleukin-6), which predict the risk of heart attack and stroke. Other possible benefits include reduced levels of adrenaline, improved immune function, and less active clotting systems.

So, how do you rate your optimism? Do you focus on what you don't have, see challenges as threats, keep to yourself when things get tough, expect the worst and avoid solutions, or do you believe in yourself, focus on how to get things done, reach out to friends when you need help, see challenges as opportunities and assume success?

Hopefully you swing more towards the optimistic and positive side, but either way, no one person is 100% optimistic--so, throughout the week, during your day to day challenges, in the face of unpleasant moments and adversity, I encourage you to practice expecting the best in yourself and in others--seeing everything as an opportunity, focusing on the view at the top rather than the struggles along the path.... and always assume success! So much of our life experiences are a result of what we focus on and therefore attract. The law of attraction is always at play. The question for us becomes who and what we want to attract?


Action Item:

Be positive, optimistic, joyful and enthusiastic! Practice expecting the best in yourself and in others--seeing everything as an opportunity and always assume success in yourself.



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