Everyone is looking for the Fountain of Youth…and a new study shows it might just be as simple as maintaining an optimistic outlook!
Research has identified many factors that can help decrease the likelihood of diseases and premature death — healthy diet, exercise, no smoking, limited alcohol, minimal stress, etc. However, much less is known about whether positive psychosocial factors can extend healthy aging. It seems like an obvious connection.
If risk factors impact your health negatively, shouldn’t beneficial factors impact your health positively? Yes, they can! And science has shown the positive impact that optimism, gratitude, kindness, and generosity can have on your health. This article explores the science behind the power of optimism.
A new study based on decades of research finds that having an optimistic outlook supports a longer life span. Preliminary findings indicate that optimism could boost our chances of living 85 years or more by over 50%.
Researchers from Boston University’s School of Medicine, the National Center for PTSD at VA Boston Healthcare System, and Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health have found that individuals with greater optimism are more likely to live longer and to achieve “exceptional longevity” — that is, living to age 85 or older.
Scientists combined data from two large, long-term studies: One study focused on 69,744 women and the other study focused on 1,429 men. Both groups completed survey questions to assess their feelings about the future as well as their level of optimism. Their overall health and
habits were also detailed, controlling for variables in diet, exercise, smoking, and alcohol use. The women were followed for 10 years, the men for 30 years.
The study aggregating the data of both study groups was published on August 26, 2019, in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
When individuals were compared based on their initial levels of optimism, the researchers found that the most optimistic men and women demonstrated, on average, an 11% – 15% longer life span, and had 50% -70% greater odds of reaching 85 years of age compared to the least optimistic groups. Scientists were able to show that the most optimistic women (top 25%) lived an average of 14.9% longer than their more pessimistic peers, and were 1.5 times more likely to reach 85 years old than the least optimistic women. For the men, the most optimistic of the bunch lived 10.9% longer than their peers, and were 1.7 times more likely to make it to 85 years old. The results were maintained after accounting for age, demographic factors such as educational attainment, chronic diseases, and depression, and health behaviors such as alcohol use, exercise, diet, and primary care visits.
Despite the good news, it’s still unclear how exactly optimism helps people attain longer life. Researchers make the connection that more optimistic people tend to have healthier habits, such as being more likely to engage in exercise and less likely to smoke, which could extend life span.
“While research has identified many risk factors for diseases and premature death, we know relatively less about positive psychosocial factors that can promote healthy aging,” explained corresponding author Lewina Lee, PhD, clinical research psychologist at the National Center for PTSD at VA Boston and assistant professor of psychiatry at BUSM. “This study has strong public health relevance because it suggests that optimism is one such psychosocial asset that has the potential to extend the human lifespan. Interestingly, optimism may be modifiable using relatively simple techniques or therapies,” says Lee.
“Other research suggests that more optimistic people may be able to regulate emotions and behavior as well as bounce back from stressors and difficulties more effectively,” says study senior co-author Laura Kubzansky, PhD, MPH, Lee Kum Kee Professor of Social and Behavioral Sciences and co-director, Lee Kum Sheung Center for Health and Happiness at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
“Research on the reason why optimism matters so much remains to be done, but the link between optimism and health is becoming more evident,” said senior author Francine Grodstein, ScD, professor of epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and professor of
medicine at the Channing Division of Network Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School.
“Our study contributes to scientific knowledge on health assets that may protect against mortality risk and promote resilient aging. We hope that our findings will inspire further research on interventions to enhance positive health assets that may improve the public’s health with aging,” added Lee.
So let’s take a step back and unpack exactly what constitutes optimism. For this study, “optimism” refers to a general expectation that good things will happen, or believing that the future will be favorable because we can control important outcomes. Optimism doesn’t mean ignoring life’s stressors, but rather when negative things happen, optimistic people are less likely to blame themselves and more likely to see the obstacle as temporary or even positive. They also believe they have control over their fate, and can create opportunities for good things to happen in the future.
So if optimism contributes to longevity, how do we become optimists? Are you born that way, or can you train your brain to think in that way?
Deepika Chopra, PsyD, is a visual imagery expert and a happiness researcher specializing in evidence-based manifestation and the science behind cultivating joy. He suggests three simple daily practices to increase your optimism:
1. Move to your favorite music: Music and movement are significant ways to increase happiness and optimism. And it’s a great in-the-moment practice. Turn on some music that makes you happy and dance, even if it’s just for 30 seconds.
2. Spend time in nature: Get outside for 20 minutes. That’s it. You don’t even have to be active. You can just sit down in the grass. Contact with nature increases positive mood, and we know that when our mood is improved, our brain also anticipates events more optimistically.
3. Thank yourself: We’re getting so familiar with the idea of gratitude — it’s one of the most researched concepts in mindfulness. But people rarely express thanks for themselves in their gratitude journals. Celebrate your wins, even if they’re super small. Actually, the smaller the better. When we’re celebrating something we’ve achieved, we’re so much more likely to focus on what we want or what good things are up next than on what is not going well.
Now, more than ever, in this New Abnormal World, we need to keep an optimistic outlook on life amidst constant change. There is a lot at stake these days, and the situation changes minute-to-minute. So how do we maintain optimism through 2021?
At OHI we strongly believe in the three gifts of faith, hope, and love. That is why many of our classes focus on optimism. In particular, our mental detoxification class teaches you how to cancel, reframe, and replace negative thoughts with positive ones to facilitate the healing process. The goal is to develop a mindfulness practice for maintaining an optimistic attitude — gratitude, affirmations, visualization, journaling, and living in the present.
We hope you’ll join us at one of our OHI campuses during 2021. Put the power of our community to work for you, and anchor your optimistic mindset. When you accentuate the positive, that sunny, optimistic outlook just might help you live an extra long and happy life!
“Cheer Up! Optimists live longer” by David Shultz, ScienceMag.org, August 26, 2019
“Optimists Live Longer” by Gina DiGravio, The Brink e-newsletter, Boston University, August 26, 2019
“New evidence that optimists live longer”, ScienceDaily, www.ScienceDaily.com/releases, August 26, 2019.
“New study shows optimists may live longer”, by Max Massey and Sarah Acosta, ksat.com, November 9, 2020
“How to Think Like an Optimist,” by Deepika Chopra, PsyD, Goop.com
At Optimum Health Institute, we teach you how to cultivate an optimism outlook to support your extra-long happy life. During your visit, our caring team can help you achieve your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual goals for optimal health. Visit our website at www.optimumhealth.org, and call us at (800) 588-0809 to make your reservation.
Carla has been interested in nutrition for as long as she can remember. Of course, she started out by researching the nutritional value of horse feed…
“I worked as an assistant horse trainer for 5 years,” laughed Carla. “These horses were on the professional show circuit, so they received the best of care. But sometimes a horse would develop diabetes, or other serious health issues, so I started researching what was going into their horse feed. I knew nutrition had to be at the root of their problem.”
Carla went on to earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Nutrition from San Diego State University in 2014, and was looking for a job that would not only utilize her knowledge of nutrition, but also emphasize her values and her enthusiasm for helping people.
“I started working at OHI in the spring of 2015,” said Carla, “and I’ve been here for almost 6 years, working my way up from food prep to kitchen manager. I chose to work here instead of in the food service industry because this job allows me to help people grow as human beings through food.”
Carla is not only the kitchen manager at OHI, she also teaches several food-based classes, and oversees the greenhouse.
“As kitchen manager, I want to make sure the guest experience is the best it can be,” said Carla. “My staff and I are always looking to make new recipes and utilize the foods that are in season as much as possible while maintaining the meal structure of the program. We are also working to increase the amount of farm-to-table produce we serve, making sure it is all certified organic from local farms. We also work to grow all of our own wheatgrass in our campus greenhouse, as well as a small amount of sprouts. To be honest, I’m still learning the fine points of growing sprouts. It’s HARD!”
Carla really gets to know the guests well in all the food classes she teaches. “I teach Fermented Foods 1 & 2, Dehydrated Foods, and Menu Planning,” said Carla. “My favorite class to teach is Fermented Foods 1. Guests not only learn how to ferment foods, but I also introduce new
concepts like how to make your own seed milk and how to spiralize vegetables. I want guests to leave the class feeling confident that they can easily do all of this at home.”
Carla knows many people have a combative relationship with food, and they come to OHI to try to resolve some of those personal issues. “So many guests struggle with food, fear food, or are confused about food,” she said. “At OHI, we take the mystery out of food, and help you learn to use food to honor your body. And ‘honoring your body’ doesn’t mean you have to make big changes to your diet all at once. Progress can be made by just making changes to your thought direction on food choices.”
So what has Carla learned about herself working at OHI? “I think I’ve learned patience,” said Carla. “Guests will often come to me with food questions, but what they really want to do is just talk. Sometimes just being heard and feeling validated is all that they really need to jumpstart the change within themselves.”
Carla is so enthusiastic about each new cohort of guests that arrives. “My advice to new guests is to come with an open mind,” she said. “You have to trust that this program is going to work for you. No matter whether your goals are for physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual growth, this program will get you there. And I am honored to be a part of that growth.”
During your visit, our caring team can help you achieve your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual goals for optimal health. Visit our website at www.optimumhealth.org, and call us at (800) 588-0809
to make your reservation.
Eva Loseth is a true Chicagoan at heart, but she sure does love the warm embrace of the California sun. “I grew up in Chicago,” said Eva, “but after college I put down roots in California for 15 years. I love California’s sun, healthy produce, canyons, and their beautiful beaches. I’ve been happily back in Chicago for a decade now, but going back to OHI San Diego is a trip I always look forward to.”
Eva is a “frequent flyer” at OHI, having been a guest at the San Diego campus approximately 10 times. “I first went to OHI in 2001 at the suggestion of a friend,” said Eva. “After all of this time, OHI has become a vital sanctuary to me. Each time I go back I discover a new perspective on something that helps build my toolset for healthy living.”
Eva usually stays at OHI for 1 or 2 weeks at a time, but for her most recent stay she set aside a full 4 weeks. “My mother suffered a catastrophic stroke in August, and I spent eight nights in the ICU by her side,” said Eva. “I was holding her hand as she passed away, and the grief I felt was deeply profound. My heart was broken in a thousand pieces, and I knew I needed to process my grief in a loving, nurturing environment. As soon as I could safely get on a plane I went to OHI.”
Eva’s daily OHI routine keeps her active while still giving her time alone to be reflective. “I like starting my day with the morning exercise class,” said Eva. “The movement gets me out of my head, and into a place where I can focus on the strength and resilience of my body. If my body stays strong, then I know my heart, mind, and spirit will follow. After exercise class, I attend the daily Breakfast Circle, which helps jumpstart my day with a thoughtful meditation.”
Eva takes as many classes as she can whenever she visits OHI. “The You Validation class and the Mental Detox class are wonderful, especially for first-time guests,” said Eva. “It’s very important to learn how to cancel negative thinking. Attending the Release Ceremony is always so beautiful and moving for me. And the Eat, Pray, Live class has great ideas for jazzing up my food once I go home.”
Eva thinks that no matter the reason for your visit, the success of your journey is dependent upon one thing. “When you come to OHI, come with an open mind, an open heart, and a willingness to put in the work on yourself,” Eva said. “Every guest that walks through those doors has a different set of challenges and opportunities, but we all want to be the best of version of ourselves that we can be. So my advice is to spend your time at OHI focusing on the journey. Take the classes. Write in a gratitude journal. Eat the food. Go for a walk, and immerse yourself in nature. You will come out of your stay a different person. 2020 was the most difficult year of my life, and losing my beautiful dear mother is the greatest challenge I have yet to face. Taking the time to heal my heart is absolutely vital to my ongoing health, and I know my mom would want me to grieve in a way that leads me to grow as a human being.”
“ I am so grateful that OHI is here as a meaningful, holistic refuge whenever I need it.”
In these uncertain times, look to OHI as your safe haven. As we celebrate 44 years of holistic healing, we can teach you how achieve your mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual goals for optimal health. Stay safe, and be well. Above all, embrace positivity!
Visit our website at www.optimumhealth.org, and call us at (800) 588-0809 to make your reservation.
Here is a warm and hearty New Year greeting to our OHI community. As we enter into the new year, we would typically be looking forward to a fresh new year with a bright new future. But instead, we find ourselves striving for a return to normalcy.
Most of us will likely remember 2020 as the year Covid19 descended upon us and profoundly changed the way we live and relate to one another. Almost one year later, we are living in an era of anxiety, fear and a future marked by uncertainty. We are told this is the new normal, however, there is nothing normal about the world’s current state. Staying safe in this new world, requires heightened vigilance and sharp awareness as situations arise. It is in this context I want to address the concept of Situational Awareness. But first allow me to set the stage…
“In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit.” Judges 17:6
I first learned about the book of Judges in my youth from my Sunday school instructor. The book of Judges, from the Old Testament, examined the human condition as it spiraled downward into moral corruption. This part of Jewish history spanned 325 years and was marked by a cycle of sin, oppression, repentance, deliverance, then peace… only to repeat the cycle. With each cycle, Israel’s leadership (the Judges) grew more corrupt until Israel as a whole fell into self-destruction. The stories within the book of Judges, although deeply dark and disturbing, are meant as a cautionary tale and to generate hope. The descent into self-destruction occurred when the people of Israel turned away from God. And the stories effectively point out the need for God’s grace and for situational awareness.
The characteristics of that period – turmoil, disunity, hardship – are similar to today’s conditions. So let’s explore the concept of Situational Awareness and how to apply it to our current time.
What is Situational Awareness?
Situational Awareness (SA) is about noticing anomalies and determining what is likely to happen next. If you see something that is odd or abnormal, that is when you want to start analyzing the setting and then deciding how to respond. Develop a habit of noticing peculiarities or deviations from the norm. Sometimes it’s just a feeling; oftentimes your subconscious will notice something – that is your intuition speaking to you – trust your gut.
SA is considered an important aid to decision-making especially when it comes to protecting human life and property. Lack of SA can lead to accidents or in the case of health – illness. It is in the area of health that OHI can help.
Using Situational Awareness in a Covid19 World
When you must go out, it pays to be attentive to sanitation and hygiene. Are the facilities of companies that you visit mindful of the pandemic? Are they maintaining cleanliness? Are they monitoring staff and customers for compliance with health protective behavior such as mask-wearing and social distancing?
Here at OHI, we use situational awareness to inform our decisions in providing our guests with a sanitary and healthy environment. More on this later, but we are so proud of this accomplishment that we are now saying that OHI is the safest place you can be outside of your own home.
“For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7
Today’s brave new abnormal has created a divergent paradigm in which we now have to live. It requires us to maintain an alert mindset because the Coronavirus, like the flu virus, could mutate and the vaccine will likely not be widely available until this Spring. The best defense is to be prepared for unexpected exposure to viruses, bacteria, and toxins. And the best way to do that is to practice self-care, to routinely work on improving and maintaining your health and well-being. Developing and boosting your immune system, taking vitamin D, washing your hands often, and wearing a mask in public settings are ways that can serve you in the event of an unexpected exposure. Here at OHI, we provide a complete program that focuses on wellness for the body, mind, and spirit. From diet to cleansing, you’ll learn self-care techniques that you can use for a lifetime.
Our busy fast-paced lifestyle makes it challenging for us to find time for self-care, and this especially impacts women. Women have traditionally been caretakers, and as much as our modern world strives for equality, this hasn’t changed all that much; instead it has increased the demands on working women. This makes it challenging for women to find time for self-care.
Self-Care is Vitally Important in The New Year
When we have people relying on us – co-workers, customers, family, and friends – we can’t afford to get sick. All of which makes self-care essential.
The English language is full of idioms that warn us not to overdo things: “You’re… biting off more than you can chew… spreading yourself too thin… burning a candle at both ends… running yourself into the ground… working like a dog… overtaxing yourself… pushing yourself too hard… working your fingers to the bone… wearing yourself out.”
The risk of failing to take time for self-care is that you can become stressed, irritable, angry, frustrated, and depressed. In short you can burn out, and become sick. The remedy is to develop a routine of taking care of you. Self-care doesn’t just happen; you have to actively plan it into your day. You should schedule it, write it in your calendar, and announce it to your friends and family to insure your commitment. Reserve self-care time then guard it.
A mistaken notion is that taking care of your self is selfish. It is not. Sometimes you simply have to say, “No.” You can’t satisfy everyone’s needs; you have to set limits. When you know how to take care of your needs, and do so, you are better prepared to take care of others. Remember: practicing self-care is practicing self love!
Self-care enables you to perform at your best and become more productive. When you reduce your stress, you relax and feel good, which in turn improves your self-esteem and makes you resilient. When you develop awareness of your personal needs and meet them, you will become well rested and energized. Now you will have clarity and sense of purpose, as well as knowing what has to be accomplished.
The Good News is Self-Care Doesn’t Have to Take a Lot of Time
There are many ways in which we can give ourselves the self-care we need. Start with only those things that must be done today. Identify your top priorities, and then stop over committing yourself. Don’t get caught up in perfectionism, it is okay to take imperfect action. An easy method is to give yourself extra time in the morning, so you don’t start your day off rushed. Get up a smidge earlier for a little “me time”. Another great place to start is by identifying and addressing your basic needs; make sure they are being met before you start helping someone else. Like the flight attendant says, “Put your oxygen mask on first before helping others.” Take some time to feel your feelings; too often we try to ignore this important aspect of our emotional system.
Getting organized is a big way to take care of yourself. De-clutter your space (home and office) and your time by eliminating stuff you don’t use and activities that waste your time (social media is an example). You might even consider making a Stop-Doing or NO list to help you remember.
“A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” Proverbs 17:22
Here at OHI, we’ll show you many ways in which to practice self-care. You’ll learn about feeding yourself the right foods for good nutrition and health. Our Stretch and Alpha classes will show you how to focus, strengthen, relax, and gain clarity. You’ll find solitude where you can spend time in prayer, quieting your mind, contemplation, reflection, and practicing gratitude. You will also learn how to release the past and things that no longer serve you. Best of all, you’ll develop your own community of like-minded individuals with whom you’ll form a lifelong connection. Maintaining your OHI connections will provide you with a sounding board and support group of people who understand your particular self-care needs better than anyone else.
At OHI Your Safety is Our Primary Interest
As I mentioned above OHI is the safest place you can be outside of your own home. In essence, OHI has created a safety bubble for our community. We have taken every conceivable precaution to provide a safe and sacred environment. Back in March, we established a safety plan that follows CDC protocols and involves three major pillars: preventing infectious diseases from entering the OHI campus; sterilizing the campus, guest rooms, and public areas to reduce the likelihood of disease transmission; and conducting ongoing temperature checks and Covid-19 testing for our employees.
Our safety measure include: 1) Pre-screening our guests at the time they book their reservation, before they arrive on our campus, and upon arrival to ensure they are symptom-free. 2) Covid-19 testing for our employees on a bi-weekly basis. 3) We installed special oxidizing Molekule air purifiers in all of our guest rooms and common areas. 4) We use electrostatic spray disinfection systems, and only safe, non-chemical cleaners. 5) We have smaller cohorts of guests on campus, including guests, staff and missionaries. OHI San Diego is limited to 60 program attendees on our 2-acre campus; OHI Austin is limited to 20 program attendees on our 14-acre campus.
Additionally, we updated our guest rooms – we call them the OHI for Life Wellness Rooms. Our wellness rooms feature organic cotton bedding, and wood flooring instead of carpet. They are cleaned with natural products.
We are open and optimistic about the future! You don’t have to wait for the pandemic to be over to visit us here at OHI. Come develop your personal self-care program for this new year.
Wishing you health and wellness in this blessed New Year.
Yours in prayer,
Robert P. Nees, Jr.,
Senior Pastor and Chairman
Optimum Health Institute of San Diego and Austin
At Optimum Health Institute, you will learn the value, benefits and tools for self-care so you can perform at your best and become more productive in 2021. During your visit, our caring team can help you achieve your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual goals for optimal health. Visit our website at www.optimumhealth.org, and call us at (800) 588-0809
to make your reservation.