According to the American Heart Association, more than 2,200 Americans die each day from cardiovascular disease. That’s an average of one death every 39 seconds. Stroke accounts for about one out of every 18 deaths in the U.S.
A recent Harvard School of Public Health press release notes that numerous studies over the past few decades have shown that negative states of mind such as depression, anger, anxiety and hostility are detrimental to cardiovascular health. Less has been known about how positive mental attitudes and psychological characteristics are related to heart health.
Now, however, in the first and largest systematic review on this topic to date, researchers at Harvard School of Public Health have found that “positive psychological well-being appears to reduce the risk of heart attacks, strokes and other cardiovascular events.” The study was published online in Psychological Bulletin on April 17, 2012.
“The absence of the negative is not the same thing as the presence of the positive,” said Julia Boehm, lead author and research fellow in the Department of Society, Human Development and Health at Harvard School of Public Health. “We found that factors such as optimism, life satisfaction and happiness are associated with reduced risk of CVD regardless of such factors as a person’s age, socioeconomic status, smoking status, or body weight. For example, the most optimistic individuals had an approximately 50% reduced risk of experiencing an initial cardiovascular event compared to their less optimistic peers.”
Being positive and optimistic when facing the adversity of chronic or rapid onset illness or just the relentless progression of the aging process can be difficult if not impossible without some form of outside help. Yet the benefits in terms of improved heart health and increased chances of longevity make the effort worthwhile.
The story is told of a young woman who was complaining to her father about how difficult her life had become. The father took his daughter into the kitchen, put three pans of water on the stove and heated them to boiling. Into one of the pans he added carrots; to another pan he added eggs; to the third pan he added ground coffee. After all three had cooked, he put their contents into three separate bowls and asked his daughter to cut into the carrots and the eggs and to smell the coffee. “What does this all mean?” the daughter asked.
“Each food,” he said, “teaches us something about facing adversity, which is represented by the boiling water. The carrots went in hard but came out soft and weak. The eggs went in fragile but came out hardened. The coffee, however, changed the boiling water into something better.”
“Which will you be like as you face life?” the father asked. “Will you give up and become soft and weak, or will you become hardened? Or will you transform adversity into triumph? As the ‘chef’ of your own life, what will you bring to the table for others to see?”
If you are having difficulty transforming the adversity in your life into triumph, Fine After 50 can help. We specialize in helping people of any age who have experienced or are experiencing chronic or rapid onset illness or other physical or emotional challenges in their lives.
Would you like to overcome negative thoughts and feelings about what’s happening in your life? Would you like to learn how to accept the changes that are taking place in your body, manage your expectations, define a new “normal,” and look forward to the future with optimism and joy? If so, check out our Services page to get more information about what we offer and how you will benefit from working with us. We CAN help you get through the difficulties you are experiencing.