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更新时间:2017-3-28 18:39:56 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

A Positive Outlook May Be Good for Your Health

“Look on the sunny side of life.”


“Turn your face toward the sun, and the shadows will fall behind you.”


“Every day may not be good, but there is something good in every day.”


“See the glass as half-full, not half-empty.”


Researchers are finding that thoughts like these, the hallmarks of people sometimes called “cockeyed optimists,” can do far more than raise one’s spirits. They may actually improve health and extend life.


There is no longer any doubt that what happens in the brain influences what happens in the body. When facing a health crisis, actively cultivating positive emotions can boost the immune system and counter depression. Studies have shown an indisputable link between having a positive outlook and health benefits like lower blood pressure, less heart disease, better weight control and healthier blood sugar levels.


Even when faced with an incurable illness, positive feelings and thoughts can greatly improve one’s quality of life. Dr. Wendy Schlessel Harpham, a Dallas-based author of several books for people facing cancer, including “Happiness in a Storm,” was a practicing internist when she learned she had non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a cancer of the immune system, 27 years ago. During the next 15 years of treatments for eight relapses of her cancer, she set the stage for happiness and hope, she says, by such measures as surrounding herself with people who lift her spirits, keeping a daily gratitude journal, doing something good for someone else, and watching funny, uplifting movies. Her cancer has been in remission now for 12 years.

即使是面对不治之症,正面的感觉和想法也能大大提高生活质量。达拉斯的温迪·施莱塞尔·哈珀姆(Wendy Schlessel Harpham)博士为癌症患者写过几本书,比如《风暴中的幸福》(Happiness in a Storm)等。27年前,她得知自己患上免疫系统癌症——非霍奇金淋巴瘤时,她是一名执业的内科医生。在接下来15年里的8次癌症复发治疗过程中,她通过和可以振奋自己情绪的人来往,每天写感恩日记,为别人做某些好事,观看有趣的、令人振奋的电影等方法,令自己感受到幸福和希望。现在她的癌症进入缓解期已经12年了。

“Fostering positive emotions helped make my life the best it could be,” Dr. Harpham said. “They made the tough times easier, even though they didn’t make any difference in my cancer cells.”


While Dr. Harpham may have a natural disposition to see the hopeful side of life even when the outlook is bleak, new research is demonstrating that people can learn skills that help them experience more positive emotions when faced with the severe stress of a life-threatening illness.


Judith T. Moskowitz, a professor of medical social sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, developed a set of eight skills to help foster positive emotions. In earlier research at the University of California, San Francisco, she and colleagues found that people with new diagnoses of H.I.V. infection who practiced these skills carried a lower load of the virus, were more likely to take their medication correctly, and were less likely to need antidepressants to help them cope with their illness.

芝加哥的西北大学(Northwestern University)范伯格医学院医学社会学教授朱迪思·T·莫斯科维茨(Judith T. Moskowitz)开发了一套八种技能,帮助病人培养积极的情绪。在加利福尼亚大学旧金山分校(University of California, San Francisco)的早期研究中,她和同事发现,在新查出的HIV病毒感染者中,使用了这些技巧的人往往病毒载量比较低,而且更有可能正确服用药物,不太可能需要使用抗抑郁药来帮助他们应对疾病。

The researchers studied 159 people who had recently learned they had H.I.V. and randomly assigned them to either a five-session positive emotions training course or five sessions of general support. Fifteen months past their H.I.V. diagnosis, those trained in the eight skills maintained higher levels of positive feelings and fewer negative thoughts related to their infection.


An important goal of the training is to help people feel happy, calm and satisfied in the midst of a health crisis. Improvements in their health and longevity are a bonus. Each participant is encouraged to learn at least three of the eight skills and practice one or more each day. The eight skills are:


■ Recognize a positive event each day.

■ 每天都找出一件有积极意义的事。

■ Savor that event and log it in a journal or tell someone about it.

■ 回味这件事,并将其记在日记里,或告诉某个人。

■ Start a daily gratitude journal.

■ 开始每天都记感恩日记。

■ List a personal strength and note how you used it.

■ 列出自己的一个长处,并注明你是如何使用它的。

■ Set an attainable goal and note your progress.

■ 设定一个可以达成的目标,并注明你的进步。

■ Report a relatively minor stress and list ways to reappraise the event positively.

■ 找出一件给你带来较低程度压力的事,列出以积极的态度重新评估这件事的方法。

■ Recognize and practice small acts of kindness daily.

■ 坚持每天行小善,并确认自己的善行。

■ Practice mindfulness, focusing on the here and now rather than the past or future.

■ 练习正念,注重当下,而非过去或将来。

Dr. Moskowitz said she was inspired by observations that people with AIDS, Type 2 diabetes and other chronic illnesses lived longer if they demonstrated positive emotions. She explained, “The next step was to see if teaching people skills that foster positive emotions can have an impact on how well they cope with stress and their physical health down the line.”


She listed as the goals improving patients’ quality of life, enhancing adherence to medication, fostering healthy behaviors, and building personal resources that result in increased social support and broader attention to the good things in life.


Gregg De Meza, a 56-year-old architect in San Francisco who learned he was infected with H.I.V. four years ago, told me that learning “positivity” skills turned his life around. He said he felt “stupid and careless” about becoming infected and had initially kept his diagnosis a secret.

现年56岁、在旧金山当建筑设计师的格雷格·德·梅萨(Gregg De Meza)于四年前得知自己感染了艾滋病毒,他告诉我,学习“积极向上”的技巧改变了他的生活。他说他曾经觉得感染艾滋病是因为自己“愚蠢和粗心”,起初对确诊一事秘而不宣。

“When I entered the study, I felt like my entire world was completely unraveling,” he said. “The training reminded me to rely on my social network, and I decided to be honest with my friends. I realized that to show your real strength is to show your weakness. No pun intended, it made me more positive, more compassionate, and I’m now healthier than I’ve ever been.”


In another study among 49 patients with Type 2 diabetes, an online version of the positive emotions skills training course was effective in enhancing positivity and reducing negative emotions and feelings of stress. Prior studies showed that, for people with diabetes, positive feelings were associated with better control of blood sugar, an increase in physical activity and healthy eating, less use of tobacco and a lower risk of dying.


In a pilot study of 39 women with advanced breast cancer, Dr. Moskowitz said an online version of the skills training decreased depression among them. The same was true with caregivers of dementia patients.


“None of this is rocket science,” Dr. Moskowitz said. “I’m just putting these skills together and testing them in a scientific fashion.”


In a related study of more than 4,000 people 50 and older published last year in the Journal of Gerontology, Becca Levy and Avni Bavishi at the Yale School of Public Health demonstrated that having a positive view of aging can have a beneficial influence on health outcomes and longevity. Dr. Levy said two possible mechanisms account for the findings. Psychologically, a positive view can enhance belief in one’s abilities, decrease perceived stress and foster healthful behaviors. Physiologically, people with positive views of aging had lower levels of C-reactive protein, a marker of stress-related inflammation associated with heart disease and other illnesses, even after accounting for possible influences like age, health status, sex, race and education than those with a negative outlook. They also lived significantly longer.

在一项针对4000名50岁及以上人士的相关研究中,耶鲁大学公共卫生学院(Yale School of Public Health)的贝卡‧雷维(Becca Levy)和阿夫尼·巴维希(Avni Bavishi)发现,积极看待衰老可以对健康状况和寿命产生有益影响,其研究成果于去年发表在了《老年学杂志》(Journal of Gerontology)上。雷维博士说,或许可以用两种机制来解释个中原因。从心理上来说,积极的看法可以增强人们对自身能力的信念,减少可感知的压力,培育健康的行为模式。从生理上来说,即使考虑到年龄、健康状况、性别、种族和教育等可能的影响因素,积极看待衰老的那些人体内的C反应蛋白水平也较低——C反应蛋白水平是与心脏病等疾病有关联的压力相关炎症的风向标。他们的寿命也更长。