Chuck, a few days ago, I watched one friend burst out in an angry tirade and another buckle under heavy depression. Both extremes have to be bad for your health. Any clinical support for my theory? – “Seeking Balance” in Bellevue, Wash.
It has long been known that a high-stress life or strung-out personality can lead or contribute to a number of repercussions in life, from high blood pressure to failed relationships and worse. Studies have shown that negative moods and traits even can contribute to damaged arteries and damage the heart itself.
But a study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health published this past week in the Psychological Bulletin showed that being optimistic and upbeat not only is good for you mentally, but also may help protect you against heart disease.
In her review of 200 studies examining the links between psychological well-being and physical health, lead researcher Dr. Julia Boehm said that people who were most optimistic had half the risk of a first heart attack than those who were least optimistic (those results were true regardless of a person’s age, socio-economic status, body weight or smoking status).
The Associated Press reported that “Boehm found that people with a better sense of well-being tend to have healthier blood pressure, cholesterol and weight, and are more likely to exercise, eat healthier, get enough sleep and avoid smoking.”
Commenting on a similar study of roughly 8,000 British civil servants – published in a 2011 edition of the European Heart Journal – Boehm said, “These findings suggest that interventions to bolster positive psychological states – not just alleviate negative psychological states – may be relevant among high-risk individuals.”
Maureen Talbot, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, added that this new Harvard study “does confirm what we already know, which is psychological well-being is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, just like staying active and eating healthily. It also highlights the need for health care professionals to provide a holistic approach to care, taking into account the state of someone’s mental health and monitoring its effect on their physical health.”
Indeed, this research confirms what has been known since ancient Hebrew days, as stated in Proverbs 23:7: “As a person thinks, so he or she is.”
Though more corroborating research needs to be done linking psychological and physical well-being, Dr. Elizabeth Jackson of the University of Michigan and American College of Cardiology confessed that even her heart patients who are invested in their care and have some control over their lives have the best outcomes.
Jackson concluded, “Sometimes it’s hard, particularly in tough economic times, but taking a moment to just relax and enjoy a sunny day might be good heart health.”
I’m firmly convinced that my good health, as well as my success in life, has resulted primarily from my positive mentality, perseverance and faith in God.
Several decades ago, I created the following positive “principles for life,” and I encourage you to do the same for your own life. Despite having failed before – often repeatedly – I am committed to achieve these for life:
- I will develop myself to the maximum of my potential in all ways.
- I will forget the mistakes of the past and press on to greater achievements.
- I always will be in a positive frame of mind and convey this feeling to every person whom I meet.
- I will continually work at developing love, happiness and loyalty in my family and acknowledge that no other success can compensate for failure in the home.
- I will look for the good in all people and make them feel worthwhile.
- If I have nothing good to say about a person, I will say nothing.
- I will give so much time to the improvement of myself that I will have no time to criticize others.
- I always will be as enthusiastic about the success of others as I am about my own.
- I will maintain an attitude of open-mindedness toward another person’s viewpoint while still holding fast to that which I know to be true and honest.
- I will maintain respect for those in authority and demonstrate this respect at all times.
- I always will remain loyal to God, my country, my family and my friends.
- I will remain highly goal-oriented throughout my life because that positive attitude helps my family, my country and myself.
For a more holistic medical approach, my wife, Gena, and I recommend Sierra Integrative Medical Center in Reno, Nev. The people there are pioneers in integrative medicine. They blend the best of conventional medicine with the best alternative therapies.