A prescription of hope for 2016
It’s heartening to read the results of the recent Pulse Asia survey, conducted from Dec. 4 to 11, showing that 89 percent or roughly 9 out of 10 Filipinos welcome 2016 with hope that life in general would be better.
This appears to be a general sentiment felt by the majority of Filipinos across geographic areas and socioeconomic classes.
Hope is one of the positive emotions we can nurture that can put us back on track despite whatever challenges and adversities we may be encountering. Being hopeful can have a tremendous impact on one’s family and work, and most certainly, on one’s health. It is a potent tool for coping and positively handling stress, change and adversity.
There are studies showing that people prone to a feeling of hopelessness have more relationship problems, higher rates of absenteeism in work, lower productivity and other measures of performance or success. They also tend to be more sickly; and independent of other factors like genetics (familial) or presence of other illnesses, their life span tends to be shorter.
Hopeful people can tolerate pain better and they generally have a more positive health-seeking behavior. They’re also more compliant with their doctor’s prescriptions and other instructions, leading to better long-term health outcomes.
On the other hand, hopelessness is a strong predictor of death or shorter life span, and some researches have shown that those who said they felt hopeless were more than twice as likely to die during the study follow-up period than those who said they were more hopeful.
The science of how hope could account for its health benefits may be difficult to explain, in the same manner we can easily explain how high blood pressure or diabetes can cause heart attacks and strokes. The actual mechanism has not yet been discovered, but there is a fairly robust body of literatures suggesting it leads to favorable short- and long-term health outcomes.
For example, a study by Dr. GC Chi and his colleagues published in the Oncological Nursing Forum explored the role of hope in patients with cancer. They analyzed 26 research articles published from 1982 to 2005 with four major objectives: a) exploring the level of hope in patients with cancer; b) discovering how patients cope with a cancer diagnosis; c) identifying strategies that patients with cancer commonly use to maintain hope; and, d) identifying nursing interventions used to assist patients with cancer in maintaining and fostering hope.
The authors concluded that being hopeful definitely has a positive effect on cancer patients. This can most likely impact their quality of life, their tolerance for cancer treatment, and possibly their survival.
They recommended that healthcare professionals attending to cancer patients “need to develop new interventions to foster patients’ hope and new instruments that can be used to measure outcomes.”
Some studies would show that when cancer patients lose hope, their health rapidly deteriorates, and they develop all sorts of complications leading to an earlier death.
Jerry Groopman, MD, author of the bestseller “The Anatomy of Hope,” explains that hope is different from mere positive thinking, which can just be passive. Hope requires an active understanding and acknowledgment of the obstacles, and taking some positive action. A cancer patient can’t simply feel hopeful that his or her cancer would heal by positive thinking alone. He/she has to decide to undertake the necessary treatment, be it surgery, chemotherapy or irradiation.
There is “no room for delusion” for truly hopeful patients, Dr. Groopman says. Hopeful patients also tend to motivate the physician to provide more aggressive but appropriate treatment, knowing that these patients would be more compliant.
Make an effort
In the same vein, simply feeling hopeful about 2016 will not give a jobless person work. One has to make an effort to find work, to keep on applying despite repeated rejections. And chances are, the hopeful person will find work than someone who sees a bleak 2016 for himself/herself and his/her family.
In the workplace, hopelessness has also been linked with absenteeism, which can translate to huge losses in many companies if not controlled. A study was done on mechanical and electrical engineers employed in a Fortune 100 tech company; and the researchers reported that the “high hope” engineers, on average, were absent from work for less than three days in a 12-month period. On the other hand, the “low hope” engineers had an average of 10 days or more of absences from work in that same period of time.
So, whether it’s for better health, more happiness and success, or better life in general, feeling hopeful can indeed be our most important prescription for 2016; and we’re happy that 9 out of 10 Filipinos are taking that prescription. Despite the uncertainty that 2016 and subsequent years may have in store, we’re better equipped to handle them with a feeling of hope. The best part of it is that hope, as a prescription, has no side effects.
Wishing everyone a bountiful and healthier 2016!
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