Posts Tagged ‘optimism’

By Robert Preidt

In remote Italian villages nestled between the Mediterranean Sea and mountains lives a group of several hundred citizens over the age of 90. Researchers at the University of Rome La Sapienza and University of California San Diego School of Medicine have identified common psychological traits in members of this group.

The study, publishing in International Psychogeriatrics, found participants who were 90 to 101 years old had worse physical health, but better mental well-being than their younger family members ages 51 to 75.

“There have been a number of studies on very old adults, but they have mostly focused on genetics rather than their mental health or personalities,” said Dilip V. Jeste MD, senior author of the study, senior associate dean for the Center of Healthy Aging and Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry and Neurosciences at UC San Diego School of Medicine. “The main themes that emerged from our study, and appear to be the unique features associated with better mental health of this rural population, were positivity, work ethic, stubbornness and a strong bond with family, religion and land.”

There were 29 study participants from nine villages in the Cilento region of southern Italy. The researchers used quantitative rating scales for assessing mental and physical health, as well as qualitative interviews to gather personal narratives of the participants, including topics such as migrations, traumatic events and beliefs. Their children or other younger family members were also given the same rating scales and additionally asked to describe their impressions about the personality traits of their older relatives.

“The group’s love of their land is a common theme and gives them a purpose in life. Most of them are still working in their homes and on the land. They think, ‘This is my life and I’m not going to give it up,'” said Anna Scelzo, first author of the study with the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse in Chiavarese, Italy

Interview responses also suggested that the participants had considerable self-confidence and decision-making skills.

“This paradox of aging supports the notion that well-being and wisdom increase with aging even though physical health is failing,” said Jeste, also the Estelle and Edgar Levi Chair in Aging and director of the Sam and Rose Stein Institute for Research on Aging at UC San Diego.

Some direct quotes from the study’s interviews include:
•”I lost my beloved wife only a month ago and I am very sad for this. We were married for 70 years. I was close to her during all of her illness and I have felt very empty after her loss. But thanks to my sons, I am now recovering and feeling much better. I have four children, ten grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren. I have fought all my life and I am always ready for changes. I think changes bring life and give chances to grow.”
•”I am always thinking for the best. There is always a solution in life. This is what my father has taught me: to always face difficulties and hope for the best.”
•”I am always active. I do not know what stress is. Life is what it is and must be faced … always.”
•”If I have to say, I feel younger now than when I was young.”

“We also found that this group tended to be domineering, stubborn and needed a sense of control, which can be a desirable trait as they are true to their convictions and care less about what others think,” said Scelzo. “This tendency to control the environment suggests notable grit that is balanced by a need to adapt to changing circumstances.”

The researchers plan to follow the participants with multiple longitudinal assessments and compare biological associations with physical and psychological health.

“Studying the strategies of exceptionally long-lived and lived-well individuals, who not just survive but also thrive and flourish, enhances our understanding of health and functional capacities in all age groups,” said Jeste.

Study co-authors include: Salvatore Di Somma, University of Rome La Sapienza; David Brenner, Nicholas Schork and Lori Montross, UC San Diego; and Paola Antonini, 3B Biotech Research.

Story Source:

Materials provided by University of California – San Diego. Original written by Michelle Brubaker.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/12/171212091045.htm

Journal Reference:
1.Anna Scelzo, Salvatore Di Somma, Paola Antonini, Lori P. Montross, Nicholas Schork, David Brenner, Dilip V. Jeste. Mixed-methods quantitative–qualitative study of 29 nonagenarians and centenarians in rural Southern Italy: focus on positive psychological traits. International Psychogeriatrics, 2017; 1 DOI: 10.1017/S1041610217002721

Advertisements


By Lisa Rapaport

Women who have a sunny outlook on life may live longer than their peers who take a dimmer view of the world, a recent study suggests.

Researchers analyzed data collected over eight years on about 70,000 women and found that the most optimistic people were significantly less likely to die from cancer, heart disease, stroke, respiratory disease or infections during the study period than the least optimistic.

“Optimistic people tend to act in healthier ways (i.e., more exercise, healthier diets, higher quality sleep, etc.), which reduces one’s risk of death,” said one of the study’s lead authors, Kaitlin Hagan, a public health researcher at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard University in Boston.

“Optimism may also have a direct impact on our biological functioning,” Hagan added by email. “Other studies have shown that higher optimism is linked with lower inflammation, healthier lipid levels and higher antioxidants.”

Hagan and colleagues examined data from the Nurses Health Study, which began following female registered nurses in 1976 when they were 30 to 55 years old. The study surveyed women about their physical and mental health as well as their habits related to things like diet, exercise, smoking and drinking.

Starting in 2004, the survey added a question about optimism. Beginning that year, and continuing through 2012, researchers looked at what participants said about optimism to see how this related to their other responses and their survival odds.

Researchers divided women into four groups, from least to most optimistic.

Compared with the least optimistic women, those in the most optimistic group were 29 percent less likely to die of all causes during the study period, the researchers report in the American Journal of Epidemiology, December 7th.

Once they adjusted the data for health habits, greater optimism was still associated with lower odds of dying during the study, though the effect wasn’t as pronounced.

Still, the most optimistic women had 16 percent lower odds of dying from cancer during the study, 38 percent lower odds of death from heart disease or respiratory disease, 39 percent lower odds of dying from stroke and a 52 percent lower risk of death from an infection.

While other studies have linked optimism with reduced risk of early death from cardiovascular problems, this was the first to find a link between optimism and reduced risk from other major causes, the study authors note.

One limitation of the study is the possibility that in some cases, underlying health problems caused a lack of optimism, rather than a grim outlook on life making people sick, the authors point out.

They also didn’t include men, though previous research has found the connection between optimism and health is similar for both sexes, said the study’s other lead author, Dr. Eric Kim, also of Brigham and Women’s and Harvard.

Despite the lack of men in the study, the findings still suggest that it may be worthwhile to pursue public health efforts focused on optimism for all patients, Kim said by email.

That’s because even though some people may have a less positive outlook on life for reasons beyond their control like unemployment or a debilitating illness, some previous research suggests that optimism can be learned.

“Negative thinking isn’t the cause or the only contributor to these illnesses,” said Dr. Susan Albers, a psychologist at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio who wasn’t involved in the study. “Mindset is just one factor, but the results of the study indicate they are a significant one and can’t be ignored.”

Some people can develop optimism when it doesn’t come naturally, Albers added by email.

“It is worth tweaking your mindset as much as taking your medicine,” Albers said. “Work with a counselor, join with a friend, hang up optimistic messages, watch films and movies with a hopeful, positive message, find the silver lining in the situation.”

http://www.psychcongress.com/news/optimistic-women-may-live-longer

by John Haltiwanger

I woke up at 6 am this morning, three hours before I’m supposed to be in the office, and was still 10 minutes late to work.

This is pretty standard for me. I’m almost always a few minutes late. I don’t mean anything by it, and I certainly don’t think I deserve a different set of rules than everyone else — it’s just the way I am.

I wake up early and try to fill the time before I leave for the office with as many activities as possible: a short workout, breakfast, catching up on the news, daydreaming while struggling to put my socks on, etc.

I’ll look at the clock and think, “Oh, I still have plenty of time.” One or two tasks later, I’ve only got 40 minutes to get to work and a 45 minute commute.

This has been the case with every single job I’ve ever had and is typically true when it comes to social meetings as well. I’m habitually unpunctual, and apparently I’m not alone.

As management consultant Diana DeLonzor states:

Most late people have been late all their life, and they are late for every type of activity — good or bad.

Surprisingly little scientific research has been done on tardiness, but some experts subscribe to the theory that certain people are hardwired to be late and that part of the problem may be embedded deep in the lobes of the brain.

So if you’re chronically late, I feel for you and sympathize with the onslaught of criticism you likely receive on a consistent basis.

I know you’re not a lazy, unproductive, inconsiderate or entitled person. I know you’re not attempting to insult anyone by your tardiness.

Your lateness is simply a consequence of your psychology and personality — nothing more, nothing less.

With that said, while those of us who are continuously tardy should work to overcome this trait, there are also hidden benefits.

Chronically late people aren’t hopeless, they’re hopeful.

People who are continuously late are actually just more optimistic. They believe they can fit more tasks into a limited amount of time more than other people and thrive when they’re multitasking. Simply put, they’re fundamentally hopeful.

While this makes them unrealistic and bad at estimating time, it also pays off in the long-run in other ways.

Researchers have found optimism has a myriad of physical health benefits, from reducing stress and diminishing the risk of cardiovascular disease to strengthening your immune system.

Indeed, happiness and positivity have been linked to a longer life in general.

Maintaining a positive outlook is also vital to achieving personal success. Research shows happiness increases overall productivity, creativity and teamwork in the workplace.

All of this makes a great deal of sense, as a study conducted at San Diego State University has also connected lateness with Type B personalities, or people who tend to be more laid-back and easygoing.

In other words, people who are habitually late don’t sweat over the small stuff, they concentrate on the big picture and see the future as full of infinite possibilities.

Time is relative, learn to live in the moment.

We should also note punctuality is a relative concept. Time and lateness mean different things in different cultures and contexts.

In the United States, we often interpret lateness as an insult or a sign of a poor work ethic.

When people are late, it’s assumed they feel their time is more important or valuable. Americans believe time is money and money is time.

But if you head over to Europe, it’s almost as if the notion of time magically mutates each time you enter a new country.

In Germany, the land of perpetual efficiency, punctuality is of the utmost importance.

When Russian President Vladimir Putin was late to a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, for example, she left because that’s how Germans roll.

If you venture over to Spain, however, you’ll find time has taken a completely different character. The Spanish run by their own clock and are famous for eating dinner at 10 pm.

Sail on down to Latin America, and you’ll discover punctuality bears little to no importance.

The point here being, we all do things our own way.

It’s fair to contend unpunctuality is bad for economic growth and that schedules are vital to maintaining efficiency.

But when we look at the fact Americans work extensive hours yet exhibit low levels of productivity, this argument feels somewhat empty and void.

As both societies and individuals, we all need to find the healthy balance between punctuality and lateness. Schedules are important, but breaking them isn’t the end of the world.

People with a tendency for tardiness like to stop and smell the roses, and those with a propensity for punctuality could learn a thing or two from them (and vice versa).

Life was never meant to be planned down to the last detail. Remaining excessively attached to timetables signifies an inability to enjoy the moment.

Living in the present is vital to our sanity. Sometimes it’s much more beneficial to go with the flow.

We can’t spend all of our time dwelling on the past or dreaming of the future, or we end up missing out on the wonderful things occurring around us.

http://elitedaily.com/life/culture/optimistic-people-have-one-thing-common-always-late/1097735/