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  • midlifelove 11:53 pm on March 8, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: bored, Boredom, dangerous to health, , heart risk, raise blood pressure   

    Bored To Death 

    My Grandma used to say boring people are bored people – but sometimes a touch of the old ennui is unavoidable.

    Waiting for web pages to load, getting stuck in traffic, watching someone play video games – they come high on most people’s Top Five Most Boring Things to do list.

    They’re all things that test your patience, but they’re not terminal you say.  Until now, that is, because according to new research, you really can be bored to death.

    Boredom Bad For Heart

    It seems the more bored you are, the more likely you are to die early, although scientists caution it’s probably not the boredom alone that will kill you, but the risky behaviour – drinking, eating, inhaling the wrong things – that often accompanies it.

    It doesn’t hurt to be just occasionally bored – that happens to everyone. It’s the chronic kind of boredom that’s dangerous.

    In the study 7500 London civil servants aged 35 – 55 were questioned about how bored they were at work the previous month, and then those who were still alive were followed up 20 years later.

    University College London researchers Annie Britton and Martin Shipley found that those who reported they had been very bored were two and a half times more likely to die of a heart problem than those who hadn’t reported being bored.

    But when the authors made a statistical adjustment for other potential risk factors, like physical activity levels and employment grade, the effect was reduced.

    Boredom As Dangerous As Stress

    Researchers point out someone who is bored may not be motivated to eat well or exercise, and boredom is often linked to depression, which has long been recognized as a risk factor for heart disease.

    Others said boredom was potentially as dangerous as stress.

    “Boredom is not innocuous,” said Sandi Mann, a senior lecturer in occupational psychology at the University of Central Lancashire who studies boredom.

    She said boredom is linked to anger suppression, which can raise blood pressure and suppress the body’s natural immunity. “People who are bored also tend to eat and drink more, and they’re probably not eating carrots and celery sticks,” she said.

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  • midlifelove 4:30 am on March 6, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Ballina, Bass Coast, , Bribie Island, Copper Coast, Echuca, Geraldton, Inverloch, Kadina, Mandurah, Moonta, Murray River, New South Wales, Perth, Phillip Island, Port Macquarie, Queensland, South Australia, St Helens, Tamar Valley, Tasmania, Toowoomba, Torquay, Tweed Valley, Victor Harbor, , Wallaroo, Western Australia, Wonthaggi   

    Best Places To Retire in Australia 

    You’re thinking of escaping from the big city for a more peaceful, less polluted life in a country town or beachside community. You want to avoid the known – and unknown hazards – like man-eating koalas and deranged gunmen. So before you sell up and move, it’s a great idea to do investigate your options. And there’s no better guide on how to avoid disaster than Jill and Owens Weeks’s well-researched retirement advice.

    For more than a decade, they’ve investigated Australia from north to south, east to west, for their best-selling publications.

    Here’s their pick of the best places to retire.

    New South Wales

    The state with “by far the greatest number of ideal retirement locations.  North of Sydney, the entire coastline all the way up to Newcastle is popular, particularly as retirement trends change in favour of semi retirement.”

    Port Macquarie – “vibrant and dynamic area which offers many of the services and culture of a large city.”

    Ballina “good for those who want to get away from capital cities and can live without many of the facilities they offer.”

    Tweed Valley “offers most of the good features of the Gold Coast without many of the downsides . .  and close to Coolangatta international airport just across the border in Queensland.”

    Victoria

    Torquay (near Geelong) “There’s a buzz about the place . . . close to Geelong’s facilities. Fastest growing non-metropolitan area in Victoria and a clear favourite with retirees.”

    Bass Coast (Inverloch, Wonthaggi, Phillip Island) or Echuca (on the Murray River) “Cost of housing reasonable and a compelling list of positive features with few if any down sides.”

    Western Australia

    Mandurah (south of Perth)  – “Special appeal because of the number of services focused on retirees,” or Geraldton.

    Queensland

    Toowoomba “affordable housing, good facilities, relaxed pace, and not over-crowded with tourists in holidays. Not as humid as the coast, and Brisbane is accessible.”

    Bribie Island “preferred destination for those who want to get away from the congestion of the Gold coast.”

    South Australia

    Victor Harbor “Outstanding geography, access to Adelaide, vineyards and fine food. Holiday destination for over 100 years, town is full of well-preserved buildings, museums,” or the Copper Coast Yorke Peninsula  (Kadina, Wallaroo, Moonta.)

    Tasmania

    St Helens “Ideal climate on the Sun Coast, an affordable and relaxed lifestyle that few places in Australia can match,” or the Tamar Valley

    Checklist for Retiring

    Jill and Owen Weeks suggest:

    • Consider renting in the location of your choice. House-sit or even caravan-sit before you buy.
    • Subscribe to the local newspaper for at least 12 months before you move. This provides a good source of jobs, real estate and what’s happening in the community.
    • Research the utilities and services. Does the mobile phone work? Is there internet connection and educational services? This is particularly important if you are running a home-based business. Also check local services such as the nearest mechanic or electrician.
    • Will your new home require major renovations? Is it ‘older body friendly?’ Will you eventually need to move because of stairs? What happens if your mobility is impaired?

    See also Where to Retire in Australia for additional advice.

     
  • midlifelove 11:02 pm on March 4, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: 70th birthday, All-Starr summer tour, Barbara Bach, George Harrison, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Ringo turns 70, The Beatles, vegetarian, YNot 15th album   

    Ringo: Great Form Facing 70 

    With a new album, an enduring and happy marriage, and a zest for life that’s the envy of many 30-year-olds, Ringo Starr enters his 70th year with high spirits.

    He’s the eldest of the famous Beatles – he will hit his 70-year milestone on July 7  – and he’s got the newest music.

    He’s not missing a beat as he embarks on a three-week promotional tour for his just-released Y Not album, his 15th solo outing on which fellow Beatle Paul McCartney plays bass on the song ‘Peace Dream’.

    And he plans to mark his 70th by flashing a two-fingered peace sign at noon and playing an evening gig at Radio City Music Hall as part of a summer tour with his latest All-Starr band.

    Last year on the Larry King Show, Starr noted: “I work out. I have a trainer. And I watch what I eat. That’s it really. And I’m in love with a beautiful girl, so it keeps me young.”

    Turning 40 was Harder

    And as he told Randy Lewis of the Los Angeles Times, 70 is “not as big as 40 was. Forty was: ’Oh, God, 40!

    “There’s that damn song, ‘Life Begins at 40.’ No, it’s not so big anymore. I am nearly 70, and I’d love to be nearly 40, but that’s never going to happen.

    “I feel the older I get, the more I’m learning to handle life,”

    Notes Lewis: “His charming Liverpudlian accent is nearly as strong as ever, even though he’s maintained a home in Los Angeles for the last 34 years — the majority of it with actress Barbara Bach, whom he married in 1981 — along with residences in England and Monte Carlo.”

    God Now ‘My Life’

    He’s trim – like McCartney and his late pal Harrison, he’s an avowed vegetarian – looks 15 years younger than his age, and as the years roll by spiritual issues have become more prominent, he says.

    “Being on this quest for a long time, it’s all about finding yourself,” Starr says. “For me, God is in my life. I don’t hide from that. … I think the search has been on since the ’60s. … I stepped off the path there for many years and found my way (back) onto it, thank God.”

    There’s no secret to his successful marriage to Barbara, Starr told USA Today.  “I’m just blessed that she puts up with me. I love the woman. She loves me. There’s less down days than up, and we get on really well. We do spend a lot of time together. That’s the deal.”

    Many Artistic Projects

    Starr says he also needs diverse creative outlets to keep him engaged when he’s not making albums or touring with his All-Starr band. In the 1970s it was acting, now it’s art — a selection of his photos appears inside the album.

    “I am always painting,” he says. “I love photography. It’s easy to take shots. But if you have to choose, it’s music. I love music, I love playing.”

    Ringo was three months older than John Lennon, who would have turned 70 this year. Lennon was 40 when he was shot dead in New York City.

    Paul McCartney will be 68 this year. George Harrison would have been 67.

     
  • midlifelove 4:24 am on March 1, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Baby boomers, , Bette Davis, Jill and Owen Weeks, London Marathon, retire, Richard Branson   

    Where To Retire In Australia 

    You might sympathise with Hollywood star Bette Davis when she said “I will not retire while I’ve still got my legs and my make-up box.”

    Many Baby Boomers see age as “just a number” and like Virgin boss Richard Branson (64) – who’s added training for the 2010 London Marathon to his punishing work schedule  – they’re busy packing more life into their years.

    But even for those to whom “retirement” is a foreign concept, changing lifestyle, moving home, or splitting their year between two places, can be tempting as a mid-life option.

    Looking For A Change

    The children are independent, you don’t need to worry about climbing the corporate ladder any more, and you can take time out to think about what you want to do with the rest of your life.

    If you‘re living in Australia or thinking of moving there, Jill and Owen Weeks have done a heap of research to help with your decisions.

    Their book Where to Retire in Australia is a great resource for anyone in “the Moving Generation” looking for a change of lifestyle.

    • The Weeks’ golden rule is: the most successful moves are usually  less than 200km or no more than two hours from the old location. Why? So people remain in easy reach of old friends, family and social networks.

    Key Issues To Consider

    They’ve identified the key issues to decide on when making a change:

    • Taking care of yourself; Consider closeness to doctors, hospitals and specialist medicine if required; social life – how easy is for family and friends to visit, will you find  your others who share your interests, do you want to spend part of your year in another location?
    • Weather; Check out the climate before you buy. If you’ve only holidayed at the location at certain times of the year rent for 18 months before making a permanent move while you decide if the climate is for you.
    • Keeping the Body Moving; Ensure you can pursue your interest, hobbies and sporting activities.
    • Keeping the Brain Active; Access to the Internet, opportunities for further study, or part time work, libraries.
    • Let’s Go Shopping; Proximity to a reasonably large shopping centre will have impact on your cost of living. Can you use “Loyalty “programmes like FlyBuys and discount cards.
    • Can You Afford to Move; Consider real estate, tax and social security implications, any cost of living changes.
    • Social Compatibility; Moving away from close friends and family may be painful. They may not visit regularly even if they promise they will. Are you good at making new friends and does the place you are moving to welcome new residents.

    Part 2: The Best Places in Australia to Retire.

     
  • midlifelove 1:29 am on February 21, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: best places to retire, Country Brand ratings, Forbes magazine, medical care costs, retirement   

    Best Places To Retire 


    Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

    — Mark Twain

    Author Twain’s advice applies at any age, but especially for those in their middle years looking ahead to possible “retirement”.  You maybe won’t ever want to “retire” like your parents did, but chances are you’ll be changing locations, changing your means of earning income, and maybe even changing countries.

    There are stacks of “Best Places to Retire Lists” around, all using different criteria. CBS’ Moneywatch has done a good analysis of some of the more popular list sites get their ratings.

    But now Forbes magazine has compiled its own list of the 10 best retirement havens for US citizens, based on a wide variety of criteria ranging from safety to retiree-friendly visa requirements to decent medical care.

    Forbes’ Top Ten Places to Retire

    Austria – A “lower-cost Switzerland” with mountains, the great outdoors, elegant architecture and trams that run. Vienna offers the highest quality of life on the globe, according to Mercer, and medical insurers say its private clinics are world-class.

    Thailand – Expect a warmly welcome, ideal for seniors on modest budgets. Considered Asia’s best buy for quality health care at reasonable costs, but the good private hospitals are in Bangkok, so make sure your beach retreat is within three hours of the capital.

    Italy – Warm Mediterranean sociability and one of the world’s best health care systems.  Great bargains in the South in Puglia or Sicily, or in cities like Sorrento on the Amalfi Coast.

    Panama – Year-round sun, low taxes, massive discounts for seniors, first-world amenities, quality private hospitals, bird-filled rainforests, a dollar economy and easy flights from the U.S.

    Ireland – Stunning countryside, cultural affinity, low taxes and many rebates for seniors. Overpriced Dublin reachable in a couple hours from anywhere in the country, so look for housing inland.

    Australia – The world’s best place to live, according to the Country Brand Index. The highest quality cities at the lowest cost, claims Mercer. The famously friendly Aussie has created a first-world country with low Asian costs.

    France – offers perhaps the friendliest of policies toward American retirees of any European Union nation. Considered most affordable quality health care in the world, plus low taxes for American ex-pats. Paris for wealthy, but Brittany, Normandy and the Dordogne, a short train ride away, are more affordable.

    Malaysia – Welcoming to retirees, low costs and spectacular coastline make it a strong contender for the budget-conscious, but also increasingly for the wealthy wanting an Asian tax haven. For health care reasons, avoid straying too far from Kuala Lumpur.

    Spain – The ‘Florida of Europe’ has long been a magnet for sun-starved Brits, so retirement infrastructure all in place. Coast overdeveloped but great value in lesser-known interior cities like Salamanca or Burgos.

    Canada – Cities from Vancouver to Montreal consistently score among the best in the world, both on quality-of-life and value-for-money benchmarks. Friendly policies toward retirees, affordable medical care and a natural cultural fit for Americans.

    Nowhere Is Perfect

    Says Forbes: “No place is perfect. Some countries rank high in one area but lower in others. Australia is by one well-regarded rating, the Country Brand Index, the most livable place in the world. But if you plan to return to the U.S. frequently, Australia makes for a long slog.

    “Canada is No. 2 in the Country Brand ratings and certainly convenient for Americans, but its harsh winters are well-known.

    “Italy scores high on quality of life, medical care, and cost of living and climate  . .  . But its complicated taxes and bureaucracy require patience.

    “So, the key to any decision: Know yourself and do your homework.”

     
  • midlifelove 3:52 am on February 19, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: cancer, Coffee good for you, Coffee health benefits, Harvard Medical School, , longevity, ,   

    Coffee Brims With Health 

    Drink up, coffee lovers. Not only is coffee aromatic and delicious, it’s good for you.

    Who says? None other than Harvard Medical School.

    Once considered questionable for your health, it turns out that the beloved beverage is actually healthful in moderation. That means a few cups a day.

    At about 20 cents per 6-ounce cup, coffee is a good deal if you brew it yourself.

    Harvard researchers say drinking coffee may help prevent diseases such as:

    • Cancer: Some studies have found coffee drinkers have lower rates of colon and rectal cancers, better survival rates with prostate cancer, and are 50 percent less likely to get liver cancer than coffee abstainers.
    • Type 2 diabetes: Coffee is thought to contain chemicals that lower blood sugar because heavy coffee drinkers may be half as likely to get diabetes as those who drink little or no coffee. Coffee also may increase your resting metabolism rate, which could help prevent diabetes.
    • Parkinson’s disease: Coffee seems to help protect men from Parkinson’s disease, but not women. The difference might be due to estrogen, researchers say.
    • Heart disease: Coffee is not linked to the development of heart disease. In the past few years, Harvard scientists say, coffee has been shown to be safe even for heart attack survivors. Scientists think antioxidants in coffee may reduce inflammation and protect blood vessel walls.
    • Life span: Recent studies suggest that drinking coffee decreases the risk of premature death, especially in women. Women who drank at least five to seven cups a week had a death rate 26 percent lower than non-consumers, a large investigation by researchers in Spain and at Harvard Medical School found.

    Three Or More Cups Good

    It’s not only Harvard researchers who are touting the brew’s benefits. As the Palm Beach Post reported, in September a study led by Neal Freedman of the National Cancer Institute showed that people with chronic hepatitis C and advanced liver disease who drank three or more cups of coffee a day cut their risk of the disease progressing by 53 percent.

    Although caffeine might be considered the “active ingredient” in coffee, coffee is only 2 percent caffeine and 98 percent “other stuff,” including more than 1,000 different compounds such as vitamins, minerals and amino acids.

    It even contains fiber. Each cup contains from 1.1 to 1.8 grams of soluble dietary fiber, the kind that dissolves in water and helps prevent cholesterol from being absorbed by the intestines, according to researchers at the Spanish National Research Council in Madrid.

    But Not If You Are Pregnant

    Do researchers have any words of caution? Yes — although regular coffee drinking isn’t harmful for most people, that might not hold true for pregnant women. Research has linked miscarriage to caffeine consumption of 200 milligrams or more per day. A typical cup of coffee has 100 to 150 milligrams, Harvard reports.

     
  • midlifelove 11:28 pm on February 5, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: belly fat bad, big butt healthy, Dr Konstantinos Manolopoulos, fat stored on hips, Large thighs good, Oxford University, spare tire unhealthy   

    Long Live Big Butt Women 

    Those curves are making cardiologists smile.

    A new study out of Oxford University in England reported in the NY Post found women with “pear-shaped” figures — ample extra padding around the hips, buttocks and thighs — are actually at a lower risk for heart and metabolic diseases.

    “It is shape that matters and where the fat gathers,” said Oxford’s Dr. Konstantinos Manolopoulos, explaining that fat stored on the hips and in the rear absorb harmful fatty acids and further prevent arteries from clogging.

    Belly Fat Is Bad

    “Fat around the hips and thighs is good for you, but around the tummy is bad,” he told BBC News, noting that the proverbial “spare tire” around the belly leads to higher incidences of heart disease.

    The findings help explain why women traditionally have lower rates of heart disease then men until they reach menopause, when their rates rise as they begin to gather fat around their midsections.

    “The only thing I can say is that women who have large thighs shouldn’t be anxious about it,” Manolopoulos said. “Their body shape is associated with health.”

    Scientists believe genetics play a large role in where a body stores fat.

     
  • midlifelove 2:31 am on January 30, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , how to have a great marriage, Ian and Mary Grant, , mens and womens brains different, tips for better marriage, unhappy marriage   

    How to Have a Great Marriage 

    Marriage is a two-storey house – that’s her story and his story, quips Ian Grant*, parenting and relationship guru, who with Mary, his wife of 40 years runs the highly successful Hot Tips on Marriage seminars in New Zealand and Australia.

    Now the couple have combined to write Growing Great Marriages, a book based on the Hot Tips seminars which offers hundreds of practical strategies for giving and getting the love you want in your marriage. Some of their ideas from the book:

    Top Five Tips for A Better Marriage

    1) Watch your language

    Research shows the ratio of praise to blame is like spring rain – praise and your marriage will flourish, blame and it will wither. Couples who say five positive things for one negative should be OK. When the threshold drops to one to two they are in trouble.

    Thousands of trials have shown men are much more affected by arguments than women are:  “flooding” – when brain messages bypass the thinking and judging mechanisms and go straight to the “old reptile brain” – the section of the brain that generates negative emotions and knee jerk reactions – happens at much lower levels of criticism in men than women and they stay in that flooded state for longer.

    2) Commit and invest in the relationship

    A 2002 study by the Institute for American Values in New York showed it was wrong to assume that someone in a troubled marriage has two choices: stay married and be miserable, or get a divorce and be happy. A survey of so-called “unhappily married” couples showed two thirds of the couples who stayed married were actually happier five years later.

    Other research shows if a partner invests into a relationship, he or she is happier. When you invest in something, you bond to it.

    3) Remember men’s and women’s brains work differently:

    Think of the brain like a house: In men brain activity focuses on different sections of the brain and they switch from section to section like someone moving from appliance to appliance in a house, switching them on when needed and then turning them off.

    Women’s brains function more globally – they’ve switched on everything in the house and left it on!

    Bill and Pam Farrel’s best seller Men are Like Waffles Women are Like Spaghetti (Harvest House)  gives a great picture for the way gender affects  the way men and women think.

    Women are good at multi-tasking because like a plate of spaghetti , their brain wiring is made up of lots of different strands, touching and intertwining with each other.  Women process life through interconnections. Every thought and issue is connected to every other thought and issue.

    Men’ brains are geared to work in a more compartmentalised way – like squares on a waffle. Don’t engage Dad in meaningful conversation while he is cooking the barbecue because he is focused on one thing – getting the meat cooked. Men will work on one square at a time, and then move on to the next one.

     

    4) Operate a love bank

    When difficulties arise, focus on restoring love, not resolving conflicts.

    Only one in four marriages is saved through counselling, which has traditionally focused on conflict resolution. But what most couples want is to maintain the feelings of romantic love, and if they can do that the conflict resolves itself. (Romantic love triggers the endorphins which give the pleasurable feeling of being in love)

    The Love Bank idea was developed by Dr William Harley, author of Fall in Love, Stay in Love. Think about the “love currency” you can deposit for your partner.

    Ask yourself “What can I do that makes him feel the best?” Men thrive when offered recreational companionship, sexual fulfilment and admiration from their wives. Women thrive on affection, openness and honesty. What makes people happiest is receiving attention from the people who matter most to us.

    5) Plan dates

    Ian and Mary Grant have dozens of great ideas of sharing positive time together. Amongst their suggestions:

    A 48 hour retreat; book somewhere special, take candles, special lingerie, etc and create your own haven.

    Work through the alphabet for date nights – some may be elaborate, and others as simples as a DVD you both want to see.

    Stage regular “cloth napkin dinners” with a formal setting, best cutlery and candles.

    On your wedding anniversary each year plan a special dinner and repeat your wedding vows to one another.

    *Ian and Mary Grant are high profile parenting and relationship gurus who founded Parents Inc, an Auckland based centre which runs nationwide seminars and courses on family and relationships.

     
  • midlifelove 12:43 am on January 28, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: incurable optimist, , , successful Hollywood marriage, Tracy Pollan   

    Incurable Optimist: Michael J Fox 

    Family Ties and Spin City star Michael J. Fox is the first to acknowledge his diagnosis with Parkinson’s Disease at the age of 29 could have been the undoing of his life in many ways.

    He’d been married to fellow actor Tracy Pollan for just two years. The first of their four children, Sam, was just a baby.

    “It could have left us undone,” the Back to the Future megastar says in his latest book Always Looking Up – The Adventures of an Incurable Optimist.

    And if there was ever evidence needed that he is indeed, an optimist, you only need to look at how he has handled the challenge of living with illness.

    He and Tracy went on to have three more children (twins Schulyer and Aquinnah, and six years later, Esme) and build one of the most enduring marriages in Hollywood.

    An Amazing Life

    Michael was faced with a choice, he says. ”I could concentrate on the loss – or I could just get on with my life and see if maybe those holes started filling in themselves.  Over the last ten years they have, in the most amazing ways.

    “For everything the disease has taken something of greater value has been given. It may be one step forward two steps back but I’ve learned what is important is making that one step count.

    “Parkinson’s Disease has taken physical strength, spontaneity, physical balance, manual dexterity, the freedom to do the work I want to do when I want to do it, and the confidence that I can always be there for my family when they need me.”

    Happy Marriage

    In a chapter on family life titled ‘Why I’m still with Tracy and Shaky When I’m Not’ Michael says “Some people ask me the secret of a long and happy marriage, just as they ask me about the key to raising children. My flip answer in the kid department is “love ‘em, feed ‘em and keep ‘em out of traffic.” As for marriage, I often reply with equal brevity “Keep the fights clean and the sex dirty.”

    “Parkinson’s is always putting me in a box, and Tracy has become expert at folding back the flaps, tipping it over and easing me out.

    “She’d tell you probably with a laugh, that the greatest challenge she faces isn’t having a Parkinson’s patient for a husband, it’s having me for a husband. And by the way, I am a Parkinson’s patient.”

    Gains Greater Than Losses

    “The more complicated our marriage has got, the more it seems to bring out the best in us.

    “I was a big believer in my own PR: a happy-go-lucky lottery winner who had it all, a great career, a beautiful wife, a healthy son. I was struggling, though, with figuring out how to keep it all going. I was working more than I needed to, worrying more than I liked to admit, and drinking more than anyone should. I was, to put it mildly, not well positioned to deal with what was coming.

    “The change that Parkinson’s has forced up me and Tracy and the family, pales in comparison with the changes we have brought upon ourselves. We give more to each other than Parkinson’s could ever take away“.

     
  • midlifelove 12:23 am on January 26, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Bill Gates, Dr Hilary Tindle, fewer heart attacks, , live longer, lower heart risk, , optimist, University of Pittsburgh research study.research study on optimists   

    Optimists Enjoy Better Health 

    It seems life’s most public optimists – “Can Do” power houses like Lance Armstrong, Bill Gates and Michael J Fox – are onto something.

    New research indicates being an optimist significantly cuts your chances of suffering a heart attack, and even helps you live longer.

    In the largest study done on the effect of positive thinking on health, University of Pittsburgh researchers found that compared to pessimists, optimists had a nine per cent lower risk of developing heart disease and a 14 per cent lower risk of dying from any cause.

    Bad Times Bring Good

    Seven times Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong credits much of his own success on the bike to his battle with testicular cancer.

    “I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that none of, none of my success on the bike would have been possible without that disease,” he said. “Life wouldn’t have been necessarily empty, but it would not have looked like this.” Armstrong also said his optimism is inspired by his mother, who overcame her own set of challenges as a teen mom.

    “I give all the credit to my mom,” he said. “She’s really a survivor. She’s as strong and tough as they come and she never looks at anything in a negative light.”

    Incurable Optimist Michael J Fox

    Armstrong’s personal example, and the LiveStrong foundation he set up to support cancer survivors, inspired actor Michael J Fox to start his own Fox Team foundation for research into Parkinson’s Disease.

    In his most recent book Always Looking Up – the Adventures of an Incurable Optimist Fox says that “for everything the disease has taken something of greater value has been given. It may be one step forward two steps, back but I’ve learned what is important is making that one step count.”

    Bill Gates – Impatient Optimist

    He’s in good company. Microsoft founder Bill Gates has characterized himself as an “impatient optimist.”  And for those that know him, both terms describe him well.

    Gates has focused on his philanthropic efforts–which focus on areas where there is great suffering as well as the means to alleviate that suffering through attention and increased resources. But, too often, he says change is not coming quickly enough.

    The University of Pittsburgh study – on post-menopausal women – found the positive benefits of being optimistic were independent of income, education, or “health behaviors like [controlling] blood pressure and whether or not you are physically active, or whether or not you drink or smoke,” says Dr. Hilary Tindle, lead author of the study. “I was surprised that the relationship was independent of all of these factors.”

     
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