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Attitude can change the way you age

You’re not getting any younger — and it makes you cantankerous.

Everything’s changed since you were a kid (when things were better). Life goes 110 miles an hour, you’ve got aches where you didn’t even know you had muscles, and you can never find your favorite anything anymore. Bah.

The thing is, you can’t go backwards. Those years just keep piling on top of one another, and in the new book “Up: How Positive Outlook Can Transform Our Health and Aging” by Hilary Tindle, M.D., M.P.H., you’ll see how your attitude can make every one of them better.

Let’s look on the bright side.

You’ve probably heard that sentiment several hundred times in your life; so much, perhaps, that it’s basically meaningless to you by now. Honestly, can turning a frown upside down really make a difference?

According to Hilary Tindle, it can. Attitude has “the potential to influence every facet of our health …” Doctors, for instance, have long known that positive patients are more likely to follow medical instructions, “seize opportunities,” and avoid sabotaging their own healing. In short, upbeat patients are easier to treat — which leads to less illness and longer lives.

Research further shows that quickness to anger can predict your likelihood for heart disease. That, and a snarly attitude, can also “predict risk factors that are known to cause major illnesses of aging” such as high blood pressure and diabetes. These factors, which can stem from a negative outlook on life, begin to manifest themselves as early as childhood and they can add up over the years.

To counteract a lifetime of sourpuss-ness, Tindle says that change is necessary (just about everybody needs some change) and definitely possible. Learn how to manage responses to problems, first of all. If you’re prone to descending into a “negative cycle,” know how to escape it. Don’t think you have to be sunshiny all the time; there are many “faces” of optimism. Acknowledge your accomplishments throughout every step of life, follow “typical” doctor advice, get in touch with nature now and then, and stop being so self-critical.

Then, buck up. Says Tindle, “… outlook can be one of our strongest allies in the aging process.”

It would be way too trite and simplistic to say that “Up” is a book about positivity. No, author, researcher, and self-proclaimed optimist Hilary Tindle offers cutting-edge information on why it’s never too late to seize change and seek a better outlook in order to reap the rewards of contented aging with fewer health issues.

Knowing that it’s not that easy, however, Tindle gives readers tips on altering one’s attitude, climbing out of the doldrums, and reaching for community as a bolster. I liked this book — though I think there’s a lot here that I’ve heard before — and I liked that its advice is mixed with real evidence.

Curmudgeons, crabs, and grumps beware: this book could change your outlook and, says the author, every little bit helps. So smile once in awhile and grab “Up”… because if you do, the sky’s the limit.

“Up: How Positive Outlook Can Transform Our Health and Aging” by Hilary Tindle, M.D., M.P.H. c.2013, Hudson Street Press $25.95 / $27.50 Canada 277 pages

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