Consequences Of The Bright Side

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Luciano Lozano/Getty Images

We find the title A Brighter Outlook Could Translate To A Longer Life, by Katherine Hobson at National Public Radio (USA), typical of what we hope to find in the various media we scan to share in these pages–namely that for all the misfortune out there, we may be able to nudge outcomes in a better direction:

…Optimism could conceivably lead to improved health outcomes through several mechanisms, says Eric Kim, an author of the study and research fellow at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. First, people who are more optimistic also tend to have healthier behaviors when it comes to diet, exercise and tobacco use. But the study shows that the relationship persists even when those behaviors are controlled for, suggesting something else is also going on.

It’s also possible that more optimistic people cope better, says Kim. “When they face life challenges, they create contingency plans, plan for future challenges and accept what can’t be changed,” he says.

And finally, “optimism may directly impact biological function,” says Kim, possibly through better immune function or lower levels of inflammation.

There are some short-term studies suggesting that optimism can be taught. But it’s not yet clear whether there are easy techniques that can permanently change how hopeful someone is about the future. Nor is it known whether making someone more optimistic will also make them healthier. That would require a clinical trial.

Moreover, “not everyone wants to be optimistic,” says Kim. “We should be sensitive to people’s preferences.” In addition, it’s important to emphasize that optimism is only partly under our control. People have diseases for all sorts of reasons, many of which are not under their control no matter how optimistic they are, he says…

Read the whole story here.

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