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Cheer up People!

Why do we love to complain? It’s a question worth asking, not just of our fellow Bermudians, but of ourselves, because it turns out one’s physical health is strongly influenced by one’s mindset.

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The Annals of Cardiology No.39 | Cheer Up People!

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Are you a grumpy old man or woman? Or, worse yet, a grumpy young person? What’s your problem? Oh, I see, you don’t have a problem – everyone else has problems, and that causes you problems. It’s true, life would be easier if (a) the gardeners didn’t mow over your freesias, (b) the repair man showed up at the scheduled time, (c) the maid stopped breaking things, (d) the stores sold something worth buying, (e) there was anything fun to do in Bermuda, and (f) the government would stop interfering.

Why do we love to complain? It’s a question worth asking, not just of our fellow Bermudians, but of ourselves, because it turns out one’s physical health is strongly influenced by one’s mindset.

Mindset refers to your outlook on life, which broadly separates people into two personality types: optimists and pessimists. Optimism is defined as the belief that good things will happen in the future, while pessimists anticipate the down side of things and imagine the worst will happen.

This notion that brain health affects heart health is not new. We’ve known for a long time that stress, loneliness, and depression are associated with adverse cardiovascular outcomes. But, what about one’s general disposition – one’s mindset? With this question in mind, Dr. Alan Rozanski and colleagues examined the results of 15 studies which identified persons with positive or negative mindsets and determined their incidence of future cardiovascular events. The compiled results were published in the September 27, 2019 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association Network Open. The combined data evaluated over a quarter million people from the United States, Europe, Israel, and Australia, with ages ranging from 19-93 years. Taken together, the studies show that for an average follow-up of about 14 years, the most optimistic people had a 35% lower chance of developing angina, a heart attack, or a stroke compared to the least optimistic patients, and a 14% lower risk of death. Depending on your mindset, that could be viewed as very good news (“there’s an opportunity here”) or very bad (“it’s pointless, I’m doomed”).

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