Monthly Letters to Pulmonary Patients by Thomas L. Petty

Thomas L. Petty, M.D.

Professor of Medicine, 
University of Colorado

Chairman, National Lung Health Education Program (NLHEP)


National Lung Health Education Program
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HealthOne Center
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Denver, CO 80218
Phone: 303 839 6755
Fax: 303 832 8137

Optimism for the Health Of It

October  2002
Second Wind
Lomita, California

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'll be in touch next month.

Your friend,

       Thomas L. Petty, MD

Last update:
26 October 2002