Stay Positive and Keep Moving
Updated: Nov 14, 2022
One of my favorite parts about being a hospitalist (a physician that takes care of sick patients in the hospital) is the wisdom that I am able to gain from patients who have many more years than me.
Since medical residency, I have been asking every single one of my hospitalized patients over the age of 90 years (average US life expectancy in 2020 – 77.8 years) a simple question:
“What is your secret to making it to (insert age >= 90 years)”
I estimate that I have asked at least 500 patients this question since I began practicing medicine. As you might have guessed, answers have varied greatly. But overwhelmingly, I hear two things
1: Keep moving
2: Stay positive
These recommendations are simple and yet profound.
Bodies that move, keep moving. Bodies that stop moving will eventually stop forever. Fairly frequently, I hear things like, “my friends all refused to move or do anything, and they are all dead now." This is a morbid lesson that has never been more relevant as society has never been more sedentary than right now.
Staying active physically is just part of the equation though. Each of us must also keep our brains active, curious, and positive.
The reality that we live in and the world that we create around ourselves, starts in our minds with our thoughts.
If we live in a positive mental space, our world often develops into the beautiful happy place that we envisioned. In stark contrast, negative thoughts will lead to a negative world around us. This is why getting out of negative thought patterns is so critical to health.
Negative thought patterns make developing mental health disorders and chronic diseases much more likely (yes, being depressed makes a person more likely to have a heart attack).
My grandma Louree turned 100 in 2017 (RIP Grandma, I love you). Her sister, my Aunt Doy turned 100 on March 10, 2022. These were her recommendations to me on her birthday for the above-mentioned question:
1: Be a good person
2: Stay active and exercise everyday
3. Don’t drink or smoke……too much
4: Don’t complain, just be happy to be alive, and nobody likes complainers anyway
5. Stay positive
On a final note, and one of my favorite answers I have every received came from a 96-year-old veteran. He said:
"Value people. The connections that you have and will make in your life are everything."
Thank you Aunt Doy for adding so much value to the world over the last 100 years. We all love you so much!
If you need help getting out of negative thought patterns or getting your health back on track, Wonder Medicine clinic would love to help you!
Thanks for reading,
Bill Brandenburg, MD