The main points of chapters 4 and 5 were quite contrasting. One of the most shocking findings in Chapter 4 was that those who were more staid and calm lived longer than people who are cheerful and optimistic. Part of this is due to that those who are cheerful or optimistic often overlook the seriousness of a situation or health scare. They believe that their body can naturally fight whatever it is they are dealing with vs. those who are staider and realize that medications or other steps may need to be taken to cure an illness. People need to realize that there is little evidence that shows the immune system will gear up just because of optimism. The main impact of optimism however is that it does encourage health-promoting behaviors like sticking with exercise and eating goals, sleeping better, and lowering stress levels.
This chapter relates to my current experiences and potentially my future ones. Myself along with the people I’m surrounded by would say that I’m a very optimistic and enthusiastic person. I’m a leader in multiple groups and always try to find the good and silver lining in every situation. However, I do categorize with those who believe that taking pills is no good and that the body should fight off whatever it is dealing with naturally. All of this being said, I do take measures to ensure that body and immune system is working optimally by drinking as much water as I can, eating well, along with exercising. Yet, when was diagnosed with the flu my freshman year of college, I was quite surprised, disappointed, and frustrated as the book mentions might happen to those with too much optimism. I remember coming back to my dorm room in tears because I was so mad that I was sick, couldn’t function at my best capacity, and that I didn’t want my friends to become ill because I had the flu.
Moving on, chapter 5 was more abrupt and disheartening with the findings from the project with results stating that catastrophizes died sooner. According to this study, catastrophizers overgeneralize their problems and believe it is going to undermine everything they do. In the end, they are clearly more likely to die from violent activity or accidents.
A measure used that I found interesting was the fact that the book related cheating the IRS and cheating life. The IRS uses a discriminant function analysis to predict whether a person may be a tax cheater. Meanwhile the Terman studies used a discriminant function to see if people were willing to cheat life. It is an interesting analogy. At first, I wouldn’t consider putting those cheating their taxes in the same bucket as those willing to take their life away. Taking a step back and thinking about it a bit more, those who are willing to cheat on their taxes might live a stressful and demanding lifestyle, needing to save or get money by any means. Moreover, facing this stress may be the same stress or sadness to those committing suicide.
Lastly, I’ve encountered many individuals who have been depressed and considered self-harm at one point in their life. My hope for them is that they realize there are ways out of negative thinking and are willing to take on different guideposts to health and long life.