- Optimism for the Health Of It
- October 2002
- Dear Friends
A recent study from the Mayo Clinic is important to all of us. It showed that being optimistic about life and fate is associated with a 50% decrease in the risk of early death, compared with those who are pessimistic. The study was conducted in 839 medical patients over a 30-year period. It employed a commonly-used personality test known as the Minnesota Multi-Stage Personality Inventory (MMPI). It developed an optimism-pessimism scale (OPS). Why optimistic persons are so healthy is somewhat difficult to explain. Maybe they exercise more, eat better, and are able to adapt to the stresses and frustrations that permeate our society.
So how can we promote optimism. My answer is simple -- awaken everyday with the attitude that good news is right around the corner. Whistle while you work, smile whenever possible, listen to happy music, read books with profound meaning, go to funny movies, learn to tell jokes, and turn off the TV set more often. Remember the sage advice from pitcher Satchel Paige, "Don't look back, something may be gaining on you."
As an uncontrolled optimist all my life, I look forward to seeing an improvement in positive thinking in this country, particularly at a time when we need it most.
I will be in touch next month.
- Thomas Petty, MD