THE BLOG
10/21/2014 12:04 pm ET Updated Dec 20, 2014

The Benefits of Staying Positive

Baby Boomers,

Do you consider yourself a "positive" person?

Do you have a "glass half full" attitude about life?

Countless studies have shown that there is a strong correlation between staying positive and your overall health.

Researchers have concluded that this relationship happens because staying positive helps mitigate and eliminate the effects of stress.

Stress, as you know can lead to a variety of ailments such as weight gain, inflammation, insomnia, headaches and fatigue.

Today, I am bringing you a guest blog from Jacob Edward, who is the Manager of Prime Medical Alert and Senior Planning in Phoenix, Arizona.

Jacob is an expert on helping seniors throughout Arizona find senior living, care-giving and other vital services needed to make their lives manageable.

He experiences both positive and negative attitudes every day through his work with senior citizens.

Some of his clients come prepared with a positive game-plan on how they want to spend their "golden years."

Unfortunately, the majority of his clients have no solid direction, are very stressed and are coming to him looking for professional direction.

As Baby Boomers, we may not be ready for advanced care-giving or senior living yet, but it never hurts to prepare for our future.

In his article below, Jacob discusses some studies on positive thinkers who are more adept in dealing with stress.

These studies indicate that the effects of the stress aren't as long lasting on the positive individuals.

The Benefits of Staying Positive
by Jacob Edward

Positive Vs. Negative

During a drastic change in a person's life, especially a change that affects us adversely, it is very difficult to stay positive and stress is the result.

These events can include losing a job, missing a mortgage payment, or being diagnosed with a chronic illness.

The difference between a positive and a negative thinker is that the positive thinker focuses on what they can change rather than what they can't.

The positive thinker believes they can actually make the change and works little by little until they finally achieve their desired goal.

A Correlation Between Attitude and Health

A famous long-term study conducted by Harvard researchers focused on the 1944-1945 graduating class members.

The researchers created a survey and had the class members answer the questions.

After the class was finished answering the questions, the researchers rated the questions from positive to negative.

They found a very strong correlation between the positive and negative responses of the classmates and their overall health.

Those who had always been positive and those who changed from negative to positive in their early adulthood fared the best.

However, those that changed from positive to negative in their early adulthood and those who remained negative throughout the study fared the worst in regards to overall health and health related ailments.

Why Does Pessimism Lead to Harmful Health Consequences?

After looking at the above study, you may be wondering, what was the cause of these health issues?

As you may know, when the body is stressed it produces a hormone called Cortisol.

Cortisol was one of the original hormones that kept our early ancestors alive.

It is commonly referred to as the "fight or flight" response.

The problem is that Cortisol can be released when we are not in a life or death peril.

A simple confrontation with a co-worker can cause the body to produce Cortisol.

According the Mayo Clinic, when Cortisol is elevated in the body for a long period of time, the immune function is lowered, bone density is negatively affected, heart disease is more prevalent and ailments such as diabetes and heart disease can be the result.

Positive Thinking Case Study

One last famous study worth mentioning is the study performed by Dr. Dennis Charney, the Dean of Mount Sinai School of Medicine.

In this study, Dr. Charney surveyed 750 Vietnam War veterans and had them list qualities that best described themselves.

He was trying to determine the major differences between the veterans who did not develop "Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder" and the veterans who developed PTSD.

All of the veterans who did not develop PTSD had placed "optimism" at the top of their lists.

This was the complete inverse to the other veterans plagued with PTSD.

Additionally, the positive veterans rated themselves with high degrees of humor, selflessness, a belief in a higher power and the fact that there was meaning behind their lives - all parts of a positive overall outlook.