Focusing on being positive and optimistic may be good for your heart. “Research has shown that being an optimistic people tend to have better cardiovascular health and psychological pathology to poor physical health,” (said study lead author Rosalba Hernandez, an assistant professor in the school of social work at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign).
“By looking at optimism as a measure of psychological well-being, after adjusting socio-economic factors, such as; education, income and mental health, the most optimistic have higher odds of better cardiovascular health, compared to the least optimistic.”
To study the connection between optimism and heart health, the study authors collected data from over 5100 adults between he age 52 to 84 between year 2002 and 2004. 40 percent of them were White, 30 percent Black, 20 percent Hispanic and 10 percent Asian. All participants went through the same tests for optimism levels, and scored each levels hearth health. The results were that optimists were between 50 and 76 percent more likely to have total heart health scores in the intermediate or ideal ranges. Optimists also had better blood sugar and cholesterol levels, better BMI and had better physical activity and nutrition habits.
“There is a lot of psychological research which link pro-social behaviors to better health. Gratitude has been linked to lower impulsivity, higher salaries, better sleep and stronger relationships. All we really see here is a connection, but it does suggest that our perspective can have a snowball effect that can change our everyday life. I would accentuate the good news that its certainly the case that even if you’re not born with a big dose of optimism, it is something you can train yourself to adopt. You can change your mind to let go of pessimistic thoughts. It’s not a lost cause,” said Rosalba Hernandez.