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The Power of Positive Thinking

You are either one type of person or the other in life. An optimist or pessimist. Do you see the glass as half full or half empty? Turns out, your answer can have a great impact on your health and mortality according to new research from Harvard.

According to the new study analyzing women’s health over a course of an eight-year period, those with an optimistic outlook on life may live longer and reduce their risk of dying from several major causes of death, including cancer, heart disease, stroke, respiratory disease and infection.

The data for the study was from the 2004 to 2012 Nurses’ Health Study – a study of 70,000 women, a long-running health study tracking women’s health every two years through detailed surveys. The research looks at participants’ levels of optimism, and other factors that play a role in how optimism may impact mortality – including race, high blood pressure, diet and physical activity level.

The findings are published in the current issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology.

It’s interesting that the most optimistic women – the top quartile – had a nearly 30 percent overall lower risk of drying from any diseases studied compared with the least optimistic women comprised of the lower quartile. In all, the most optimistic women had a 16 percent lower risk of dying from cancer, 38 percent lower risk of dying from heart disease, 39 percent lower chance of dying from stroke, 38 percent lower risk of dying from respiratory disease and 52 percent lower chance of dying from infection.

This is not the first study to look at reduced risk of death and optimism, most notably cardiovascular disease was the most studied, but it is the first to find a link between optimism and reduced risk from other major causes of death.

The study’s authors said that having an optimistic outlook on life, a general expectation of good things will happen in life, may help people live longer.

My takeaway, is this: you can choose to be happy or sad when you wake up in the morning. It’s up to you to have a good day or bad day. I guess I’ve always been of the mindset to think on the bright side of things. Never dwelling (or, at least for too long) on the downside. Guess that type of thinking will bode me well health-wise too and has for the 84-plus years (almost 85 years)!

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