Attitude Is Everything

Dr. Joe Dispenza, from You Are the Placebo:

A wealth of research now exists to show that our attitude does indeed affect our health, including how long we live. For example, the Mayo Clinic published a study in 2002 that followed 447 people for more than 30 years, showing that optimists were healthier physically and mentally. Optimist literally means “best,” suggesting that those folks focused their attention on the best future scenario. Specifically, the optimists had fewer problems with daily activities as a result of their physical health or their emotional state; experienced less pain; felt more energetic; had an easier time with social activities; and felt happier, calmer, and more peaceful most of the time. This came right on the heels of another Mayo Clinic study that followed more than 800 people for 30 years, showing that optimists live longer than pessimists.

Researchers at Yale followed 660 people, aged 50 and older, for up to 23 years, discovering that those with a positive attitude about aging lived more than seven years longer than those who had a more negative outlook about growing older. Attitude had more of an influence on longevity than blood pressure, cholesterol levels, smoking, body weight, or level of exercise.

Additional studies have looked more specifically at heart health and attitude. Around the same time, a Duke University study of 866 heart patients reported that those who routinely felt more positive emotions had a 20 percent greater chance of being alive 11 years later than those who habitually experienced more negative emotions. Even more striking are the results of a study of 255 medical students at the Medical College of Georgia who were followed for 25 years: Those who were the most hostile had five times greater incidence of coronary heart disease. And a Johns Hopkins study presented at the American Heart Association’s 2001 Scientific Sessions even showed that a positive outlook may offer the strongest known protection against heart disease in adults at risk due to family history. This study suggests that having the right attitude can work as well as or better than eating the proper diet, getting the right amount of exercise, and maintaining the ideal body weight.

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