Live Life with the Attitude of a Lab — A Prescription for Better Health
You can’t look at a Labrador Retriever – tail wagging, face smiling, bursting with exuberance – and not instantly recognize a healthy positive attitude. In my book, The Power of Wagging Tails, cancer survivor Dave shares a lesson he learned from his two Labrador Retrievers about healthy living — live life with the attitude of a Lab:
“You can sit around and mope about all that is going wrong, or you can look at the world like a Lab—like it has just been created and created just for your amusement. When you look at life that way, there is no room for anger. Frustration is reduced to what it should be—solving the problems of the moment, not worrying about what life has in store for you six months, or a year, or five years from now. I learned from my Labs to do the best I can, to see the good in all people and all events, and to savor each moment of life. I have my wonderful dogs—I’ve got a great life—and it really doesn’t get much better than that!” — Excerpted from The Power of Wagging Tails
Medical doctors are now taking a lesson from the positive attitude of the Lab and investigating the health effects of a positive attitude. This month, two new studies were released evaluating the effects of positive thinking on health and disability:
- A comprehensive review of several studies confirmed data from an earlier study conducted at the University of Pittsburgh liking attitude with heart health. The authors concluded that optimism and a positive attitude were consistently linked with reduced risk for heart disease. In one study, optimists were 30 percent less likely to die from heart disease and 14 percent less likely to die from any condition.
- Another study from the journal Arthritis Care & Research monitored patients with knee arthritis. Among the over 1000 people included, having a positive attitude was linked with reduced knee pain and arthritis-related disability. Even after correcting for pain severity, individuals with a positive attitude were significantly less disabled than their negative attitude counterparts and were walking more than 700 steps per day more.
Approaching each day with a positive attitude won’t make your health problems go away. But they may make the impact of those conditions less and reduce your risk for developing other problems. Keeping a Lab’s attitude didn’t cure cancer in my friend Dave, but when you meet him and his exuberant Labs, all smiling ear to ear, you know he’s finding the best in each day and living a life that’s as full and healthy as possible. So take a lesson from the next Lab you see — he’s giving you a prescription for a healthy, happy life.