Trying to stay positive during a difficult part of your life is much easier said than done. Even though we are missing solid scientific evidence to make the claim that positive thinking will increase chances of survival, there is no doubt that other benefits come along with an optimistic mind.
Research on the link between positive attitudes and cancer has been very controversial in the past, leading to conflicting views. Not sure what to believe?
There are two sides to the story:
Psychologist Michael F. Scheier, whose research provided the groundwork for exploring the field of optimism claimed, “optimism is clearly associated with better psychological health, as seen through lower levels of depressed mood, anxiety, and general distress, when facing difficult life circumstances, including situations involving recovery from illness and disease.”
Professional athletes Lance Armstrong and Mark Herzlich both full-heartedly believe that positive thinking played an instrumental role in their successful battles with cancer.
Although these individual stories are hopeful, there is still little solid evidence about the correlation between positive thinking and survival rates.
Psychologist James Coyne from the University of Pennsylvania claims that any studies that prove a correlation between the two are based on “bad science” and even states that “attitude doesn’t matter for survival…there are some things you can modify in life, but cancer is not one of them.”
While scientists continue to disagree on measurable effects in a research setting, everyone agrees that a positive outlook doesn’t hurt, and often helps.
Some amazing things linked with positive thinking:
- Increased happiness and mood
- Help with chronic pain
- Better coping skills
- Decreased chance of depression
- Better compliance with treatments
- More motivation to exercise