Positive mental attitude: A key to optimum health

In Ayurveda by Marvin Francis

Life is full of events beyond our control, but it’s how we respond to these events matters most, as the saying goes, life is 10% of what happens to us and 90% of what we respond to. Our attitude goes a long way in determining how we view and respond to all of the challenges of life. We will be much happier, much healthier, and much more successful if we can adopt a positive mental attitude rather than a pessimistic view.

Studies have shown that individuals with a pessimistic attitude have poorer health, are prone to depression, are more frequent users of medical and mental health, exhibit more decline in memory and brain function with aging, and have a lower survival rate compared with people with a positive mental attitude.

The importance of attitude to human health has been shown in the link between the brain, emotions, and immune system. Research in the field of psychoneuroimmunology indicates that every part of the human immune system is connected to the brain in some way, either via a direct nervous tissue connection or through the complex language of chemical messenger and hormones. Every thought, emotions and experience sends a message to the immune system that either enhances or impairs its ability to function. A simplistic view is that positive emotions, such as joy, happiness system optimism, tend to boost immune system function. Negative emotions as depression, sadness and pessimism tend to suppress it.

Studies examining the immune functions in optimists vs. pessimists have shown better immune function in the optimists. The immune system is so critical to prevent cancer that if emotions and attitude were risk factors of cancer, one would expect to see an increased risk of cancer in people who have long-standing depression or a pessimistic attitude.

The Veterans Affair Normative Aging studies shows that men reporting high levels of optimism had a 45% lower risk for angina pectoris, nonfatal myocardial infarction, and death from coronary heart disease than men reporting high level of pessimism.

Pessimistic adult had higher blood pressure levels and felt more negative and less positive than optimistic adults. Excessive anger, worrying and other negative emotions have also been shown to be associated with an increased risk for cardiovascular disease.

So with all said one should bear in mind that a positive mental attitude is absolutely essential for us to really live life to the fullest, also propel us to be the best that we can be.