The Mayo Clinic Health Letter has published research results showing that a person’s outlook on life can directly affect his or her health and even play a life or death role. My friend Elaine Glass could have saved the researchers tons of time and effort. All they had to do was ask her what she’s been up to health wise during the last nine years.
All she did was win five bouts with cancer and battle non-contagious tuberculosis. She also pulled through a disc fusion plus two hip replacements. And she has diabetes.
Quality medical care, of course, deserves much credit for her success, but highly valued help comes free of charge from another source as well. One of her doctors explained it to her as “your (optimistic yet realistic) attitude. That’s why you’re still here.” Unfortunately, so is her recently recurred lung cancer.
Elaine enters round six typically defiant and with her sharp sense of humor intact. She is on a six-month schedule of weekly chemotherapy treatments, determined as ever to come out on top. Her battle cry: “I will not put up with this. Period. “I need healthy lungs to exercise at Curves.”
She also needed to get her hair done the day before her first chemo treatment because “I refuse to disappoint my fans by looking like a schlep when I make my entrance.”
Vintage Elaine, however, was her get-together with friends and their children for an evening of Halloween trick or treating—only two days after the chemo ordeal began. Exhausted? Depressed? Her answer was: “No way. I love being with those kids. I even thought of wearing a hospital gown as a costume but I didn’t want to risk catching a cold.”
Elaine’s way of fighting back doesn’t offer any guarantees, but it beats the alternative which, as she sees it, often means “getting into bed, hiding under the covers and staying there until it’s time for the next doctor’s appointment.” Research findings published in the Mayo Clinic Health Letter back her up. For example:
—During an eight-year follow up of a study involving nearly 100,000 women age 50 and over, optimists were found to be 30% less likely than pessimists to die of heart disease and 14% less likely to die of any disease.
—Positive, pragmatic thinkers won out in another study covering more than 900 adults. Compared to naysayers in the group, they were 77% less likely to die of heart attack, stroke or other cardiovascular diseases.
—Follow up to a 40-year Mayo Clinic survey shows that for every 100 people studied, “the 25 most pessimistic, anxious and depressed had a 30% greater chance of dying than the most optimistic.” Over 7,000 people participated.
The numbers don’t lie. Neither does Elaine Glass. So keep smiling everyone.