WOW Word-Of-the-Week #287: Alterable

January 24, 2010 by  

Alterable – capable of being changed.

How do you feel about change? Do you find it easy or difficult?  Have you altered your lifestyle in the last year?


Last week I wrote about being optimistic from Dr. Ranit Mishori’s article, “Why Optimism is Powerful Medicine,” featured in Parade Magazines StayHealthy section. This week I want to share some statistics from that article.

A recent issue of the journal Circulation provides hard evidence that optimism and health are connected. Researchers studied nearly 100,000 women over eight years, tracking how many heart attacks they suffered and how long they lived. “Optimists had a 16% lower risk of having heart attacks,” says the lead author, Dr. Hilary Tindle of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

And this study, it turns out, is not the first to link optimism with better health. A 2004 study of nearly 1000 elderly Dutch people found a connection between optimism and a lower risk of death from heart disease. The reverse seems to hold true, too. Pessimists – who were followed in a 2000 Mayo Clinic study that looked at more than 800 patients over 30 years – ran a 19% higher risk of early death than optimists.

“Optimism and pessimism affect health almost as clearly as do physical factors,” says Dr. Seligman. “Optimists expect good things to happen and work toward them. They exhibit a can-do attitude. Pessimists view setbacks as permanent, unchangeable, and pervasive. They often feel helpless when things go wrong and tend to believe that bad luck repeats itself.”

This week focus on being alterable. How willing are you to deal with change? Do you lead a healthy lifestyle? If you knew that you would live longer and be happier would you be more willing to change your thoughts?

Reader Responses

Susan: Change is hard. If we all had our druthers, we would like to keep our lives on an even keel with few – if any – disruptions. It is those unexpected disruptions that turn all of our best-laid plans topsy turvy. We have an idea of what we want to do, when we want to do it, and how we want to do it. But then life happens and all of those plans go out the window. Let’s face it. There is not much we can do when life happens, except try to deal with it. But it is hard. We work hard to cover all of our bases with those things we can control, and then someone comes up and screws it all up for us. I guess how we respond to change as it takes place is as big a determining factor in how we adapt that change to our lives. In many instances we do not have a choice but to deal with the change. When it does come, it can put us on that road less traveled and take us to a place that is much better. At the time the change hits, we don’t always see how the closing of one door and the opening of another can put us in a good place. It is hard to see that big picture in our lives because we have all of these plans, and we are living inside of our own picture frame. As a result, our picture becomes very limited. I have as hard a time with change as the next person. I have experienced a number of difficult changes in my life. After having gone through them, I dealt with them as well as could be expected and moved on. It was hard, but the tough part passed. Hopefully, as I approach my dotage, I will be able to deal with whatever life throws my way. I know if won’t be easy, but I will try to look at it as optimistically as possible. Thanks for the word, Susan. Kristen and I had a break from the kids yesterday to see “Mamma Mia!” I don’t know if you have seen it, but it is a great and funny story, and features a number of Abba’s hits from the ’70s and early ’80s. We saw the last show of the run yesterday. The cast came out after the bows and sang “Dancing Queen” and “Waterloo.” A lot of fun. Take care. “Warrior” Joe