Optimism helps heart patients live longer, while pessimism harms

In my book, 10 Essentials of Happy, Healthy People: Becoming and staying highly healthy, I have a chapter on how your attitude about life impacts your health. And no attitude has a more powerful effect than optimism.

Now USA Today reports that “heart patients with an optimistic outlook are more likely to be healthier down the road and survive longer than those with less rosy views,” according to a study in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Investigators “gave a questionnaire to” approximately 2,800 “cardiac patients with coronary artery disease at the time they were in the hospital receiving a diagnosis.”

The New York Times “Well” blog reported that during “the next 15 years, more than 1,600 of the study patients had died, and about half the deaths were related to heart disease. The researchers found that optimism was a strong predictor of overall survival.”

The participants “who scored low on optimism tests were 30 percent more likely to die during the study period, even after the researchers controlled for factors like depression and severity of disease.”

On the other side of the coin, pessimism may override effectiveness of even powerful treatments.

The AP reports, “Pessimism can override the effectiveness of even powerful treatments,” according to a study published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

After brain scans revealed that “expecting more pain fired up sections of the brain that control mood and anxiety” in a small study involving 22 people, the study’s authors recommended that physicians build better relationships with patients to cultivate trust in suggested treatments.

If you’d like to learn ways to build better relationships, increase your optimism and gratitude, while decreasing your pessimism, I’d recommend you purchase, study, and apply the principles in my book, 10 Essentials of Happy, Healthy People: Becoming and staying highly healthy.

Also, you can measure your mental health using one of the free assessment tools I’ve built that can assist you in measuring your physical, emotional, relational, and spiritual health. Here are a few:

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