Having A Positive Attitude Is A Matter Of Life And Death

You’re as young as your faith and as old as your doubt.

I always knew attitude was important, but I’ve been learning that your attitude may be a matter of life and death. No kidding. Mom was right when she told you to “cheer up.”

Two longevity researchers in Georgia, for example, have been studying people who lead active lives beyond the age of 100. Without exception, these one-hundred plussers have:

* a compelling interest that keeps them active,

* an unusual capacity for coping with loss (because they have outlived their spouses, siblings, and children), and

* a POSITIVE ATTITUDE about life.

As I read the study, I thought their third characteristic, having “a positive attitude about life” was somewhat vague. I wondered what that meant. So I did a bit more digging. The researchers said their subjects “embraced life as potentially wonderful” and it was “their duty to discover and expand what was good” about it.

Using their definition, do you have a positive attitude about life? I would suggest that ALL YOUR ATTITUDE ABOUT LIFE IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN YOUR AGE IN LIFE. That’s partly why I wrote my latest book on attitude.

Dr. Kenneth Pelletier, an international expert on longevity, and a professor of internal medicine at the University of California — San Francisco Medical School, says the latest scientific research shows that man has the biological potential to live 120 years. When it comes to longevity, he says that your attitude plays a bigger role than your genetics or age. In fact, Pelletier says it is attitude that makes the major difference between those who look and act younger than their age and those who look and act old.

THE KEY TO STAYING YOUNG, according to Pelletier, IS YOUR “AGING SET POINT.” And your set point is governed by how old you think you are and by what you consider to be middle age.

People who believe 40 is middle age send signals to their bodies to begin a decline. Such people seldom live beyond 70 and never beyond 80. If, however, you live and behave as if 60 is middle age (one-half of your 120-year potential), you forestall the aging process. You’re telling your body that there are a lot of young years ahead.

Pelletier is right. I’ve seen it to be the case over and over again. One of my best friends — actually by hiking and biking buddy — is 77 years of age. But he looks, acts, and thinks at least 20 years younger than that. And one of my relatives, in her 50’s, is actually checking out nursing homes because she believes she’ll need one soon. No wonder she looks, acts, and thinks like someone who is over the hill.

So I’m cautioning you. Watch your attitude. Be careful about the thoughts you hold in your head.

Of course, people will challenge me and say, “I can’t help the way I feel. That’s just the way I am.” To that, I say, “WRONG. You’re the victim of a myth.”

You may not think you can change the way you feel. You may not think you can change your attitude. But that’s all it is — an erroneous thought. More likely, you’ve never been taught how to change your attitude. That’s why my book focuses on the 9 best ways to build a positive attitude that will never let you down.

What about you? Are you satisfied with your attitude? Is it as strong and positive as you’d like it to be? If it’s not, your health is in danger.

At Johns Hopkins University, they’ve been gathering comprehensive physical and psychological data on their medical studies for several years. They check on their students while they’re in school, and they continue to do annual updates for years afterwards.

These researchers have sorted the students into three attitudinal categories: alphas, betas, and gammas. The alphas are the steady cautious individuals. The betas are lively, bright, clever, adaptable, articulate, and undemanding — in a word, positive. And the gammas are moody, difficult, complex people with few social interests, vacillating from over to under self-confidence.

As you might expect, the gammas have the most medical problems. by their mid 50’s, 77% of them had major illnesses — but only 51% of the alphas and 25% of the betas. Their conclusion at Johns Hopkins? The more negative you are, the moodier, more depressed, anxious, angry and difficult you are, the greater chance you have of getting ill at a younger age and having major health problems.

The evidence is too overwhelming to dismiss. You’d better have a positive attitude, or you’d better get one, or you’ve got a price to pay. Again, I’d love to show you how to get and keep a positive attitude all the time.

Perhaps we should live life in reverse. One of my Tuesday Tip readers sent me this whimsical but positive way of looking at life. Enjoy.

What would happen if we lived our life backwards?

I think that the life cycle is all backwards. You should die first. Get it out of the way. Then you live 20 years in a long-term care center. You get kicked out when you’re too young. You get a gold watch at your retirement party. Then you work 40 years until you’re too young to be in the workforce.

You go to college. You party, until you’re ready for high school. You go to high school. You go to grade school. You become a little kid, you play, you have no responsibilities. You become a little baby. You go back into the womb, you spend your last 9 months floating on a waterbed, and you finish off as a gleam in somebody’s eye.

Action:  Take a check-up from the neck-up.

If you asked your 10 closest coworkers, your 10 best friends, and your 10 most immediate family members to grade your overall attitude, what grade would they give you? An A, B, C, D, or F?

Is your attitude adding to your health and longevity? Or is it detracting from it?

And what is your plan for developing a more positive attitude? Are you actually doing something about it? Or are you simply letting it be?