Sunday, January 26, 2014

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Optimism and Old Folks


by Reb Gutman Locks

     A medical journal just published a study showing that a positive outlook helps us to stay healthy as we age.[1] They found that not only does optimism help our mental health, but it even has physical benefits, too.

    The study asked, “Since negative emotions have been shown to have a detrimental effect on the body, do positive emotions have a good effect?”

    They found that over the 8 year period of the study, older folks who had medium or low level enjoyment of life were 80% more likely to have developed new mobility and functional problems than those who had a high level enjoyment of life.

     So the question has to be; “How do you get happy?”

     Someone wrote, “I have to learn how to dance in the rain.”

     I responded, “That’s nice, but it is even nicer to see the sunshine between the raindrops.”

     No matter how bad things might seem, there will always be many more good things happening to be thankful for. When we focus on the negative things in life, we become pessimistic. When we focus on the positive things in life, we become optimistic.

     During the recent snow storm, I slipped on the ice at the Kotel and hit the back of my head hard on the stone. I do not remember ever having been hit so hard. It hurt for several days. “Thank G-d!”

      How could I say such a thing?

     Two young boys ran over and helped me up, and I kept on walking. The next few days I saw at least three other men come to the Kotel with their arms in casts!

     Most often, people who are used to complaining will complain about things that happened a long time ago even though they are not happening anymore!

     “Oy, was I thirsty!”

     Once you get accustomed to a certain outlook, your mind will naturally seek to continue in that mode.

    Try this and see what kind of attitude you have. Take a piece of paper and write down how many negative things you can think of in one minute. Then turn the paper over and list how many positive things you can think of in one minute. Whichever list is longer, will determine your outlook…, and according to this study, your life span, and even your mobility!
[1] Jan. 21 issue of CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal)


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