Optimists Live Longer

Why You Should Look on the Bright Side

Even in times like these, remember to look at the bright side of life.  Research at Harvard’s School of Public Health shows that optimists’ odds of living to 85 or longer are more than 50 percent greater than pessimists.  Optimists tend to bounce back from difficulties more readily.   Perhaps it’s because optimistic people are better able to regulate their emotions.  And they have healthier habits – they are more likely to exercise, eat well, and less likely to smoke. 

Live Longer with Healthy Habits

In my county, Marin County, California, living to 85 is the norm, and all of us want a future where we live to that age or longer.  I’m pleased that my neighbors are applying healthy habits and helping to “flatten the curve” during the Covid-19 pandemic by sheltering in place and practicing social distancing.  One way I know my county is doing a good job is by looking at published GPS tracking data. Other than going to the grocery story, my neighbors are staying home, and thus, less likely to contract the virus or spread it. 

Keep Your Spirits High

To stay healthy and optimistic, we’ve found ways to keep our spirits high.  We connect every evening at 8 PM for The Howl.  Up and down the hills, from all directions, I hear my neighbors making coyote-like howls, which keep us connected in dark times. 

Stay Connected

Connection is what it’s all about now.  We meet online for Zoom chats; we send each other photos and our latest drawings; we call friends we haven’t spoken with in years; and we exchange jokes and cartoons on Facebook and Instagram.  Have you seen this one?

My Self-Isolation Quarantine Diary

  • Day 1 – I Can Do This!! Got enough food and wine to last a month!
  • Day 2 – Opening my 8th bottle of Wine. I fear wine supplies might not last!
  • Day 3 – Strawberries: Some have 210 seeds, some have 235 seeds. Who Knew??
  • Day 4 – 8:00pm. Removed my Day Pajamas and put on my Night Pajamas.
  • Day 5 – Today, I tried to make Hand Sanitizer. It came out as Jello Shots!!
  • Day 6 – I get to take the Garbage out. I’m So excited, I can’t decide what to wear.
  • Day 7 – Laughing way too much at my own jokes!!
  • Day 8 – Went to a new restaurant called “The Kitchen”. You have to gather all the ingredients and make your own meal. I have No clue how this place is still in business.
  • Day 9 – I put liquor bottles in every room. Tonight, I’m getting all dressed up and going Bar hopping.
  • Day 10 – Struck up a conversation with a Spider today. Seems nice. He’s a Web Designer.
  • Day 11 – Isolation is hard. I swear my fridge just said, “What the hell do you want now?”
  • Day 12 – I realized why dogs get so excited about something moving outside, going for walks or car rides. I think I just barked at a squirrel.
  • Day 13 – If you keep a glass of wine in each hand, you can’t accidentally touch your face.
  • Day 14 – Watched the birds fight over a worm. The Cardinals lead the Blue Jays 3–1.
  • Day 15 – Anybody else feel like they’ve cooked dinner about 395 times this month?  IS THIS YOU, yet?

Artificial Intelligence May Save Us

On a more serious – but still optimistic – note, some of us are attending online conferences where we discuss the future.  Attending Stanford University’s April 1st conference on Artificial Intelligence gave me some hope. 

  • Some politicians see progress being made on global health security coordination and tracking
  • We’re learning how changes in public policy and greater transparency could help us better respond to future biological threats and diseases
  • Using AI we’re making better predictions and can better track how the virus spreads
  • Biomedical informatics is making it easier to use existing data, including GPS cell phone data, for surveillance
  • Medical doctors are sharing global best practices
  • Researchers are discovering ways to treat patients at home using cameras and smart sensors
  • AI is being used to identify vaccine candidates
  • Finally, we’re waking up to the need for a healthy planet, because if we continue with climate change and deforestation, animals will continue to get sick, and they will make us sick again 

Let’s be optimistic about the future.  Stay well and safe. 

I am a believer in positive thinking.  I’m also a believer in being realistic.  What this means is that even if you have a clear goal, you still need to rationally assess your current situation and readiness to attain the goal.

In my coaching practice I talk to people in their 60’s and 70’s who want to return to full-time work in the profession they had in their 50’s.  Some of my clients are successful at “going back,” especially if they work in healthcare where seniors are often hired.  On the other hand, an honest discussion often reveals that a backup plan or a modified goal will lead to a better outcome.  Here’s what I mean:

Suppose David, who is 70, wants to return to full-time corporate training.   We will talk about David’s health and energy level, since the employer will look at this.  We will discuss David’s plan for staying up-to-date on corporate training needs and strategies.  For example, which online software programs is he skilled at using for developing training?  Does David need additional training to be competitive?  We need to consider David’s networking contact list.  What is David’s communication and marketing strategy?

I can help David prepare for the job search, but I need David to be clear and honest about his goal.  Is he truly healthy enough for full-time work?  Is he still mentally sharp?  Will his current skills allow him to “talk the talk” of younger and “up-to-date” colleagues?  How well does he work with younger people? Has David maintained his professional contacts, and, if not, how can he build new ones?

During an honest discussion, if David says that his health is not optimal, and his skill level is not where it was, then David and I can explore suitable goals.  For example, perhaps David can enhance his skills and then work part-time for established training companies that use hourly or daily contractors.  Depending on his interests, perhaps David can develop his own training programs and market them through social media.  David could reengage with professional and networking groups.

There are many possible goals and next steps.  The key is to be honest about the current situation.  Working with a coach can help you move from hopeful, positive thinking to realistic thinking that results in positive outcomes.