Practice Learned Optimism.

9 Apr

Our basic premise is that your body is amazing. You get a do over. It doesn’t take that long, and it isn’t that hard if you know what to do. In these notes, we give you a short course in what to do so it becomes easy for you, and for you to teach others. We want you to know how much control you have over both the quality and length of your life.

This month, we want to talk about YOU and staying optimistic, or learning to be so. When you embrace a glass-is-at least half-full view of the world, and when you’re willing to acknowledge its challenges, you can increase your happiness quotient and get younger. Thankfully, you don’t have to recite wimpy affirmations like Saturday Night Live’s Stuart Smalley (who was good enough, smart enough, and doggone it, people liked him!) to get all the benefits that come from “learned optimism”. (Yes, you can learn to be optimistic.) By being optimistic, your body will have:

Arteries More Able to Give You the Energy to Live those Optimistic Dreams. Even if you’re at high risk for heart disease because of family history, have high lousy LDL cholesterol, or elevated blood pressure and blood sugar, living with a sense of hope reduces arterial disease (you know heart attacks, strokes, and most memory loss) by 30-50%. If you’ve already had a heart attack, optimism can help you stay on track with exercise and lower your odds for dying within five years after a cardiac event by a whopping 40%.

Makes the Fats in Your Blood Less Hazardous. Optimism nudges levels of healthy HDL cholesterol upward and pushes levels of heart-threatening triglycerides down.

Improved decision-making. Optimism enhances your ability to make good decisions, a skill that can help you say ‘no thanks’ to that third drink after a tough day of work, and “yes” to a walking meeting. That means you’ll be better at solving whatever challenges life throws your way.

Stronger immunity. Your positive outlook boosts your “cell-mediated immunity”. This helps you control your body’s ability to fight invading bacteria and/or a nasty virus and even helps battle some cancer cells.

So, if you’re ready to gain those benefits, here’s a way to help you learn “more” optimism:

Please turn over…

Think loving thoughts. A short “loving kindness” meditation (you focus on feelings of love and compassion for yourself and others) increases optimism.

Love Your Neighbor (spiritually, we’re talking here). Spending time with friends is another important mood-booster.

Feeling good? Go deeper. People who pay attention to and enhance into their positive emotions are more able to overcome tough times. So, turn up the volume on good feelings to build a reservoir. Notice when you feel playful, serene, or spiritually uplifted and then ask yourself how you can heighten that feeling. It’s fun!

Keep it real. Having unrealistically positive expectations or glossing over problems instead of solving them can backfire, triggering low moods.

See positive challenges instead of threats. Resilient people attack problems in everyday life like a plumber who knows she’s got a well-stocked toolbox and plenty of experience dealing with like problems. The leak may even be dirty, but she has the confidence to make things clean and dry.

Try to consciously make a positive mind shift. When you feel threatened or worried, just reminding yourself to think more positively is often all it takes. Whenever we You! docs feel negative, we just walk thru the ICU and think how lucky we are to be walking around in the first place.

That positivity will make you healthier, happier, and protect your heart, brain, lungs, kidneys, and that youthful glow on your skin! So, enjoy POSIVITY EVERY DAY!!

Thanks for reading. And feel free to send more questions–you can always send us questions at, and some of them we may know enough to answer (we’ll try to get answers for you if we do not know).

Young Dr Mike Roizen (aka, The Enforcer)

NOTE: You should NOT take this as medical advice.
This article is of the opinion of its author.
Before you do anything, please consult with your doctor.

You can follow Dr Roizen (and get updates on the latest and most important medical stories of the week) on twitter @YoungDrMike.

Feel free to continue to send questions to You can follow Dr Roizen on twitter @YoungDrMike (and get updates on the latest and most important medical stories of the week). The YOU docs have a new web site: and its companion the only site we know of where you can find skin products proven to meet the claims (opened for business on June 1st, 2012), and a new book: YOU: The Owner’s Manual for Teens.

Michael F. Roizen, M.D., is chief wellness officer and chair of the Wellness Institute at the Cleveland Clinic. His radio show streams live on Saturdays from 5-7 p.m . E-mail him questions at He is the co-author of 4 #1 NY Times Best Sellers including : YOU Staying Young and YOU: The Owner’s Manual. He is Chief Medical Consultant to the two year running Emmy award winning Dr Oz show– The Dr Oz show is #2 nationally in daytime TV. See what all the fun is about, and what he, The Enforcer, is up to. Check local listings or log onto for channel and time. And for more health info, log onto anytime.

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