creating sustainable results in growth and performance
How important is it to live in a positive
vibration? Well, the LA Times had a front page story in January 2000 on the
power of optimism. The article shared the following statements based on research
1. Optimists do better than pessimists in work, school, and sports.
2. Optimists suffer less depression, achieve more goals, respond better to
stress, and wage more effective battles against disease.
3. Optimistic people live 2 years longer on average than pessimistic people.
4. Pessimistic people appear more prone to accidents and violence.
5. Optimists tend to face problems head on while pessimists tend to live in a
greater state of denial.
The bottom line conclusion of the article was that, however researchers measure
it, optimism is linked to happiness, perseverance, achievement, and
Norman Cousins is famous for recovering from three life-threatening
illnesses by playing a highly active role in his cures. He calls this
attitude of positive thinking "hardiness" and it can be summarized:
- Positive expectations (versus negative expectations) – expecting
successful outcomes for oneself and others
- Relaxation (versus stress) – dissipating stress through appropriate
- Positive emotions (versus negative emotions) – maintaining a sense of
humor and joyfulness even thru adversity
- Active role (versus passive role) – being a doer, not just being done unto
(In 1983 Norman Cousins wrote a best-selling book "The Healing Heart" in
which he movingly described how he used laughter, among other tools, to overcome
a life-threatening illness that doctors believed was irreversible. He used the
same processes later to help him recover from an acute heart attack. Although
the media "made it appear that I laughed my way out of a serious illness," he
wrote, careful readers of his book knew that laughter was just a metaphor.
"Hope, faith, love, will to live, cheerfulness, humor, creativity, playfulness
and confidence create great expectations - all these, he believed, had
Cousins is famous for writing that "Laughter is the best medicine." Nothing
could be truer for the adrenal glands. When you laugh, stress decreases and
all the mechanisms in your body relax. When the body is relatively free of
stress, even during those brief moments of levity, the adrenals are much freer
to recover and rebuild.
The stress induced hormone cortisol (a catabolic
hormone) is significantly reduced when we feel very happy and laugh. Cortisol
is released when we are in the catabolic or "burning energy" state and it has
an immune-suppressing effect. Research revealed that laughter results in an
increase of S-IgA (salivary immunoglobulin A), which helps fight infection. It
also shows that there is an increase in our physiological and immune system's
natural killer cells that seek out and destroy abnormal cells and that these
increases persist for a period of time after a hardy laugh.
The level of plasma cytokine gamma interferon, another anabolic substance
that strengthens our immune system, doubles when we laugh long and hard, and
the increase lasts well into the next day. If a single pill were discovered
that could accomplish all these miraculous effects, it would be headline news.
A famous report (Rosenthal and Jacobson, 1968) describes a case in which
researchers told teachers that a testing program had identified some students as
having high potential and others as have low potential. In fact the students had
been picked randomly and assigned to one of the two groups. The results after a
year in school: the so-called high-potential group showed significant gains in
achievement and ability as measured by standardized tests, while the so-called
normal group showed no significant gains.
This initial report has been followed
by decades of research: according to today's understanding, we can influence our
level of performance and that of others by our expectations. Positive
expectation (optimism) is one of the four key ingredients of hardiness
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