Researchers have begun looking at how mindset affects health. Their findings are telling.
Optimists live an average of 10.7 years longer but they enjoy 18 healthier years because the debilitating end of life diseases visit them much closer to the end than they do pessimists.
Illness likes to visit pessimists and illness likes to stay longer when it visits pessimists.
Science can tell us why this is true. Our immune system works best when we feel positive emotions. The decline in our immune function is instantaneous when we feel negative emotions. Decreased immune function equals increased illness and in later life, increased chronic illness.
Digestive function also suffers when negative emotions are felt. Sometimes it is an immediate response when someone throws up upon seeing a distressing sight. The lucky ones among us only have the experience of watching others do this in movies or reading about it in books. Others have first hand experience. More of us have experience with the stomach feeling upset almost immediately after hearing distressing news. Long-term negative emotion (often referred to as stress) leads to long-term digestive problems including a greatly increased risk of diabetes and of obesity.
Cognitive function also worsens with stress and the choices we make about things like foods, smoking, drugs, and alcohol are worse when our emotional state is worse.
Pessimists tend to develop chronic illnesses about 7 – 8 years before death, on average. Some do it far sooner and a few don’t suffer as long. When compared to optimists whose average pre-death illness is no more than two years, pessimists have it rough.
Pessimism effectively creates a self-fulfilling prophesy.
Most people think being pessimistic or optimistic is an innate trait. The truth is that both are simply habits of thought. Like all habits, they can be changed to healthier habits. Leaving pessimistic tendencies behind does not discard the essence of who you are–it allows the beauty of you to shine through in new ways. It also feels good.
We are experts in helping people who have decided they want to change their habits of thought successfully do so. Ask us how we can help you today.