If you have trouble finding the silver lining in any cloud, it's time to consider an attitude adjustment -- because it might save your life.
Your outlook could play a direct role in your stroke risk, with the most negative people facing the most negative outcomes.
Researchers looked at data on more than 6,044 men and women at least 50 years old with no history of stroke who had taken a standard optimism test.
I've never seen this exam -- but it's fun trying to imagine the questions:
You've been bitten by a dog. Do you:
b) Shoot the dog
c) Seek immediate medical attention
d) Feel lucky that such a spirited dog chose to "play" with you
In any case, the patients were all given an "optimism score" based on their answers, asked to rate their own health, and then tracked for two years.
The researchers say just 88 strokes took place in that time, but each point on the optimism scale reduced the risk of having one by about 9 percent -- and that's even after adjusting for risk factors such as smoking, heavy boozing, levels of physical activity, and overall health.
The researchers say optimism was even able to help limit the damage from known stroke risk factors such as anxiety, depression, and neuroticism.
The only downside was seen among the most extremely optimistic: The researchers say a small number of people are so positive that they always believe everything will work out no matter what -- and these people are less likely to take the actions needed to help themselves.
On the flipside, it might be hard or even impossible for some folks -- like, for example, negative people -- to believe that attitude alone can have a direct impact on health.
But other studies have found real benefits to positivity -- including a stronger immune system and healthier heart.
Several other studies have even made a similar link between outlook and stroke risk, including one published last year that found the most disagreeable grumps were 40 percent more likely to have thicker carotid arteries than positive people. (Read about it here.)
That's a major stroke risk factor -- and if you can undo it by smiling a little more and being a little more positive, I'd say that's an attitude adjustment worth making.
p.s. Other recent studies have shown that olive oil can lower your stroke risk by up to 73 percent, potassium can
slash it by up to 21 percent, and coffee can reduce the risk in women by up to 25 percent. Be sure to get in on all three.