Think positive – think well

The power of positive thinking backed by science  >  The more meaningful you believe your life to be, the better it will be. And if you are in pain you will suffer less.

That is the basis of research* which has established that people who saw the things they did as being worthwhile, were healthier as they aged. They had a higher concentration of vitamin D in their blood, healthier cholesterol and lower levels of inflammation. It is claimed the findings could help efforts to ‘tease out better ways to promote a good life in middle and older age’.

The power of positive thought is hardly new,” says a Tonic forever young therapist. ” Even the Government recognises the dangers of loneliness and that too much time on your own, or in front of the television, makes life feel less meaningful.

“In fact, therapists have been preaching for decades that positive thinking is a key to staying healthy in old age. The problem is no-one is listening. And there is no point in trying to teach old dogs new tricks, as by the time you get to retirement age it is too often too late to make lifestyle changes. NOW is the time for action”.

How to stay forever young

So does this latest research add anything new?  No – all it has done is put numbers to the misery. Those who judged life most worthwhile were 16% more likely to be married and 13% less likely to live alone. They were 13% more likely to see friends at least weekly, and much more likely to be a member of an organisation, from church to Neighbourhood Watch or a social club.

The study also found those whose lives held least meaning spent almost twice as much time alone during the day – more than six hours on average. They spent 50 minutes more a day watching television.

The power of positive thinking to keep you forever young

The lead researcher said: ‘Social engagement is a vital component of living a meaningful life. Being a member of an organisation may be meaningful in itself, but it can also provide social contact.

“Finding meaning when you are sitting on your own is quite tricky, since for most people this is linked to their relationships. We were struck by how important this feeling of meaning was, with people who saw their lives as meaningful being much more healthy as well as being socially engaged.”

Get rich & be happier

The study asked older people to rate how meaningful they felt their lives were.  They found those who rated their lives most meaningful, were 10% more likely to be among the highest earners.

These people were around a third less likely to be depressed, were less obese and were a fifth more likely to sleep well. They walked faster, ate better and were less likely to be disabled or suffer from chronic illnesses.

The conclusion is that a sense of meaning can give people the motivation to live more healthily, with those who see life as most worthwhile are more likely to exercise.

Respect your elders

To get that sense of meaning, it is important to spend time with other people. And that is the rub. People need people for change to happen. In this country the elderly have less and less value, with far too many dumped into God’s Waiting Rooms (sorry, the polite term is ‘retirement homes’). In other cultures the extended family is the norm where all ages stay together.

Now that would be a Government policy worth trying, though it is unlikely the younger generation would vote for it! Meanwhile, there are two saving graces >

  • There is always Tonic.
  • Failing memories protect the elderly. In the words of Norman Wisdom …. ‘as you get older three things happen. The first is your memory goes, and I can’t remember the other two‘!

Footnote  > * The research, carried out at the University College London’s department of behavioural science and health, is published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

19 thoughts on “Think positive – think well

  1. Maurice T. Spears says:

    I saw this research and it is worth adding that it was found that people were more likely to see their life as worthwhile if they volunteered, did a cultural activity like visiting a museum or the theatre at least every few months. In comparison, those whose lives were less meaningful spent more than four hours a day watching TV in an average day. The prof who announced the results said ….There seems to be a virtuous circle, as having a good relationship with others improves people’s sense of meaning, which can then lead to more social activities.

      • Life has to have a purpose. You need to learn how to be your own person. Maybe start with some personal interests (we used to call them hobbies!), or taking some courses in something you are interested in. You must have a reason to wake up each morning.

      • Both genetics and luck play a part. Remember, happy and clever people get dementia. Your genes interact with the environment and diseases such as dementia and Alzheimers have powerful lifestyle components. Guess it is the luck of the draw.

    • Cordy (Ramsgate) says:

      Always have something to look forward to and an opportunity to serve others. That’s what makes life worth living. The problem is that dumping our elderly relatives into these ‘God’s Waiting Rooms’ steals their will to live. They have nothing to look forward to other than TV and yet more ghastly food. And we do this under the pretence that they will be safer there. Safe from what?
      It is not about the length of life but the quality of life. As John Wayne would have said ….’die with your boots on looking into the sunrise’.

    • Mavis (Client 133) says:

      Agreed. Or in my case, I was not thinking positively enough and got a brain tumour. How careless of me.

    • known unto god says:

      i spend a lot of time on my own. alone too
      just feels like i failed because i have no friends and nothing to show for my time on on this mortal coil

  2. pissed off Pete says:

    please please please dont promote the daft idea of extended families. I agree to take my gran in and she has never stopped moaning. It is dragging the whole family down – even the cat looks depressed.
    I can also disprove your advice. We encourage her to watch TV, stay on her own, eat unhealthy foods and stay away from others – but she just keeps on living. There is no justice!

    • I know you are being ironic, but there is too much negativity around these days. Try and avoid it otherwise it will drag you down. For starters, don’t associate with miserable people, don’t watch the depressing TV news and dramas – there is enough of that in the real world. Think yourself happy and you will be.

  3. Old Harry says:

    Is life really worth living or are we just lulled into believing so? The real problem is that us oldies feel surplus to requirements. Young people see us as a barrier. I amnot moaning about my grown up children as they have their own lives, but I still find it sad that the world does not value me. Fortunately, I have a wonderful wife. She has been my hero for 32 years and if I ever lose her I would rather die than have to face the world on my own. No amount of friends could ever replace the loss.

    • an old codger says:

      Who is trying to fool who ? I am 80, and l am afraid there is nothing positive for me to look forward to, l have an inoperable condition which means I am housebound, I cannot walk unaided, or do any real positive exercise because of asthma. Old age is not a walk in the park. Your body starts to show many years of wear and tear.Life is lived in slow motion, and as the years go by, it gets worse. But l am afraid that’s life, and we just have to get on with it

  4. Mavis (aged 89) says:

    Happiness when you are old is linked to money. Sorry, but it is true. Money gives you independence, security and buys respect. You can get out and do things, meet friends for lunch, join a gym, go on holidays and and socialise. It also, of course, buys you the best healthcare. I know you can do many things without money but when life gets harder as the body starts to wear out, money is a passport to so many good things

    • I prefer the Orson Wells quote … ‘We are born alone, we live alone and we die alone…it is only through love and friendships that we create the illusion that we are not alone”

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