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A Merry Heart
Turns out that King Solomon was right when he said in Proverbs 17:22:“A merry heart does good, like medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones.”

According to a series of studies from the U.S. and Europe, optimism helps people cope with disease and to recover from surgery.1 And there’s more good news. A positive outlook can better your over-all health and give you increased longevity. In fact, if a person maintains an optimistic outlook all their life, research found these people had better health as well as a lower death rate during the follow-up period of 15 to 40 years. Here are some reasons to start seeing your cup as half-full instead of half-empty.


1. Optimism benefits cardiac patients. In one study, 309 middle-aged patients were scheduled to undergo coronary artery bypass surgery. As part of their pre-op, patients were not only given a physical exam, but a psychological one, too. The exam was designed to measure optimism and other mental capacities. When researchers analyzed the data after following these patients for six months, the optimists were half as likely to require re-hospitalization, compared to their pessimistic counterparts.

2. Optimism can lower blood pressure. In fact, it can reduce the risk of developing hypertension. A study in Finland looked at 616 middle-aged men who started out with normal blood pressure. During a four-year evaluation, those men who were highly pessimistic were three times more likely to develop hypertension compared to those who looked on the bright side of things—even after other risk factors were taken into account.

3. Optimism can help ward off heart disease. In an amazing study at Boston and Harvard Universities, scientists evaluated 1,306 men whose average age was 61. Their lifestyle habits, family history and present physical conditions were evaluated. But so were their optimism levels. None of these men had coronary artery disease when the study began. However, during the next 10 years, those men who were highly pessimistic were more than twice as likely to develop heart disease than those who were highly optimistic!

4. Optimism is good for your immune system. A 2006 study examined the connection between emotions and viral respiratory tract infections. One hundred-ninety healthy volunteers were actually given a common respiratory virus. Those who demonstrated an optimistic personality were less likely to develop viral symptoms than their peers who were pessimistic.

These studies aren’t suggesting that we stuff our feelings, that we pretend nothing is wrong, or that we don’t acknowledge disappointments and loss in our lives. These are realities. But it’s what we DO with them that makes all the difference. Will they engulf us? Will they turn us bitter? Will they drive us into seclusion? Or will we with God’s help come out stronger, more positive, wiser, ready to help others, aware of the everyday miracles in our lives, and looking forward to heaven.

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By Nancy Canwell. Copyright © 2012 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines. Scripture taken from the NEW KING JAMES VERSION © 1982.

1 http://health.msn.com/health-topics/depression/articlepage.aspx?cp-documentid=100205262&GT1=31009

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