The Value of Optimism

Anyone approaching the end of their working years can likely list more than a few occurrences in which they’ve experienced a stressful moment or handled a hectic ordeal.

Although retiring may end the need to put out fires in the workplace, stress built up over the years does take its toll and, for some, may contribute to a more negative outlook.

One study of optimism claims that while everyone is born optimistic, 95 percent of adults tend to be pessimists. Perhaps part of the maturation process is to grow more cynical; we know things won’t always work out, so pessimism may seep into our psyche.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Are you born to be an Optimist?” from Think Positive! Mag, February 2016.]

We believe one area where it’s important to keep optimism and pessimism in check is in the financial industry. Working with a financial advisor, as opposed to simply following market forecasters, may help ensure your decisions are balanced and on track for your retirement income goals.

While our focus is on helping you create a retirement income strategy you can feel confident about, professionals in other areas are making strides in the research of stress management. One recent study looked into what’s known as the “placebo effect” — when the pain is real, but the cure is fake. Research has shown that chronic stress and depression can contribute to physical ailments, but new theories are now exploring the flip side of that impact: the mind’s potential to heal.

Scientists recently discovered that when trial participants unknowingly respond to a placebo, their easement of pain is not imaginary. The effects are just as real as relief provided by a chemical drug.

Another example involves a study of over 1,000 patients with chronic back pain. One group was given acupuncture, the practice of alleviating pain by puncturing specific areas of the skin with needles. The second group was given “fake acupuncture,” in which the needles were placed in the wrong places and didn’t fully penetrate the skin. No significant difference was experienced between the two groups’ results.

However, a third group in the trial was given no acupuncture; instead they were prescribed conventional treatments of pain killers, physiotherapy and exercise. Interestingly, both acupuncture groups did twice as well as the group that took the drugs.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Chronic Stress: A Case of Mind Over Matter?” from Knowledge@Wharton, March 4, 2016.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Positive thinking: Stop negative self-talk to reduce stress,” from Mayo Clinic, 2016.]

Cognitive-based approaches such as hypnosis, acupuncture and distraction have already been proven to reduce pain. Now, new research from a Carnegie Mellon University study shows that “mindfulness meditation” can alter brain connectivity patterns to generate improvements in inflammation.

Alas, everybody gets aches and pains in our bodies. Perhaps a little mindful optimism can help alleviate some of that discomfort.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Neurobiological Changes Explain How Mindfulness Meditation Improves Health,” from Carnegie Mellon University, Feb. 4, 2016.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Mindfulness meditation provides opioid-free pain relief, study finds” from Science Daily, March 15, 2016.]

We are an independent firm helping individuals create retirement strategies using a variety of insurance and investment products to custom suit their needs and objectives.

This material has been prepared for our firm and contains general information to help you understand basic financial planning strategies that may help you work toward your financial goals. Please understand that we cannot make any promises or guarantees that you will accomplish such goals. All investments are subject to risk including the complete loss of principal.

 Throughout, we may generally discuss different financial vehicles; however, nothing contained herein should be construed as a recommendation to buy or sell any financial vehicle, nor should it be used to make decisions about your investments.

 The information contained in this material has been obtained from third-party sources believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed; it is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions.

If you are unable to access any of the news articles and sources through the links provided in this text, please contact us to request a copy of the desired reference. 

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