I’ve been thinking about one’s overall “general” attitude since a reader submitted the “Youth” poem by Ullman. I then remembered reading a study, years (and years!) ago which was tracking cancer survival rates over time for people with positive vs. negative attitudes, which showed a statistically significant survival rate for those people with positive attitudes!
I did a quick search for some recent studies, and in just a few minutes found some of the following links, the first a Mayo clinic long-term study, which found higher mortality in pessimists than in optimists (the link is to a .pdf).
While the connection between mind and body has been debated for a long time (as the Mayo clinic study points out, since the time of Plato, and perhaps before), and certainly I also found some studies that seemed to show no correlation with attitude and recovery rates, two things stand out to me:
- While the science isn’t unanimous yet about whether a positive attitude increases recovery rates by statistically significant, there is still a large amount of studies that *do* show that a positive attitude does improve survival rates. On the flip side, there are no studies I found that indicate a positive attitude in an way *decrease* recovery & survival.
- Given the above, it seems to me that a positive, optimistic attitude can only help!
I’ll maintain that when we are are Playing, and having fun, we’re promoting a positive attitude – we’re laughing, we’re joking, we’re smiling. We’re approaching problems with a playful attitude – rather than letting the seriousness of a situation drag our mood down, we’re maintaining that optimistic spirit, which can only help to improve the outcomes of any endeavor we undertake!
The studies I mentioned above are here:
- A fairly comprehensive study from the Mayo clinic (with 19,781 person-years of observation) showing a 19% higher mortality rate for pessimists over optimists:
- A recent (2010) study showing lung-cancer survival being longer with positive attitudes over those with negative attitudes: