by Successful Aging in Action! | 4.10.19
By: Roger Landry, MD, MPH
Norman Cousins, author of Anatomy of an Illness was diagnosed with a terminal illness but decided to laugh a lot in spite of it. He did just that, and laughed himself into remission and another thirty years of life. Decades ago, when this occurred, we had no idea of why it happened. Now we know that laughter, happiness, or positive attitude … however we want to label it … turbo-charges our immune system and thereby can lower our risk for many serious threats to our health such as heart disease, cancer, and even Alzheimers Disease. The New England Centenarian Study, in fact, has found that those who reach ages 100 and over most often have such positive attitudes, even in the face of significant impairment.
So why aren’t we all happy? It’s more fun, and now seems to protect us? Well, anyone who hasn’t lived in a cave all his life knows it’s not that easy. Bad things happen, we lose loved ones, the toaster won’t work, people annoy us…sometimes even those who are always happy annoy us, right? So, we’ll try to be happy, smile more, and take deep breaths when that person next to us talks too loud on his cell phone.
But, wait, there’s more we can do to be happy and positive. Here’s how. Most unhappiness and negativity is caused by stress … stress from loss, confrontation, fear. Nearly all stress is self induced … that’s right, self induced. Unless we have a tiger about to make a meal out of us, stress is caused by our mind’s judgment about whatever is happening to us. For example, take the cell phone guy. We begin to stew about how rude he is, how the younger generation is going to the dogs, how cell phones have made us a bunch of talking heads who really are not communicating at all. You’re now angry, stressed , unhappy, and with a blood pressure and pulse a bit higher. But what if you choose to ignore him, walk away, or ask him to talk more softly? In reality, these are the only three choices you have to resolve any issue. Don’t do any of them and your smile’s upside down and so are your risks of bad things happening.
So what’s the message here? It is … WE CHOOSE TO BE HAPPY. Even though bad things WILL happen (it comes with having a pulse), how you respond is the key. Choose to judge and stew about it, and you’re unhappy, unpopular, and on your way to lower quality life. Choose to accept things as they are, or walk away, or act to change them, and you eliminate stress, and can smile in the face whatever comes your way, and in the process laugh your way to aging more successfully.
Written by Successful Aging in Action!
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