Don’t Worry, Be Happy- And Live A Longer, Healthier Life

happyfacesWhen things don’t go our way, how are we to react? Being a pediatrician and having 10 children (four raised from newborns) I’ve certainly seen my share of tantrums and emotional reactions to daily stress. We know it is not healthy when we see it in the full out-of-control tantrum. Have you thought about learning to “roll with the punches” so to speak in your daily life and “don’t sweat the small stuff”?

I was watching the NBA finals recently between the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers, and the amount of pushing and shoving and very rough play that would typically have caused numerous technical fouls was amazing. To see these strong elite athletes banged up on the floor fighting for a ball, get up, and just go on like nothing had happened was impressive. Some took blows to the head, many got knees to the head or body, yet they carried on like nothing had happened. True professionals, but I suspect they have learned along the way, not to sweat the small stuff and to roll with it.

The study, “Affective Reactivity to Daily Stressors Is Associated With Elevated Inflammation,” (which you can read here… ) published in Health Psychology, concluded, “adults who fail to maintain positive affect when faced with minor stressors in everyday life appear to have elevated levels of IL-6, a marker of inflammation.” They found predictors of inflammatory markers interleukin-6 (IL-6) and C-reactive protein (CRP) elevated in those who reacted negatively to daily minimal life stress events.

Inflammation is how the body protects itself via the immune system, but when inflammation is ongoing and long term, it can undermine health. We know inflammation has a role in obesity, heart disease and cancer, and many other disorders. Learn to react positively, in stressful situations, and you go a long what to having a healthier life. This week at my son’s high school graduation, a speaker shared the analogy of a pebble getting in your shoe on a hike. You can ignore it and it will cause you harm (a blister). You can get mad at it and blame the shoes or the trail or blame whatever you want and you’ll certainly increase your stress levels and as this study shows your CRP and IL-6.  You could stop, take out the pebble, ponder it even and think to yourself, “I wonder what I’m supposed to learn from this,” or perhaps even pause and notice some wonderful scene you were missing. The point is that how we respond or react to situations has everything to do with our long term health.


Dr. Paul



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