Health

Learning from Patch Adams

If the sickeningly sweet movie Patch Adams taught us anything (besides the fact that someone needs to tell Robin Williams when he strays into the land of so-sappy-I’m-not-buying-it-anymore) it’s that the power of laughter can do wonders for our bodies.

If the sickeningly sweet movie Patch Adams taught us anything (besides the fact that someone needs to stop Robin Williams when he strays into the land of so-sappy-I’m-not-buying-it-anymore) it’s that the power of laughter can do wonders for our bodies. It can help sway a condition into turning its frown upside down. In fact, we know that a positive state of mind has the power to elevate even the soggiest of moods.

And so we have more evidence about the power of a positive mind, says a new study from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The study notes that a good attitude and mental state can kick start your happiness and make you even happier than that brother of yours who ends just about every sentence with “I should know I have a Ph.D.”  The study examined 1,028 people and linked psychological well-being to positive health benefits (such as lowering the risk of chronic disease), despite the fact that they are less educated. “If you didn’t go that far in your education, but you walk around feeling good psychological stuff, you may not be more likely to suffer ill-health than people with a lot of schooling. Low educational attainment does not guarantee bad health consequences or biological regulation, said Carol Ryff, a psychology professor at the university and co-author of the study, in a news release.”There’s a far richer understanding of how people get these strong psychosocial characteristics than there was not that long ago,” notes Jennifer Morozink, the lead researcher in the study. “There are studies of the brain showing people with higher levels of well-being react differently to negative situations.”

Now while we can’t just force the good feelings to come because background factors of such as parenting styles and good role models add to how resilient and strong we are as people, it’s just more evidence that thinking like, say, Poppy from Happy-Go Lucky does a body good.