Capitol Hill work is often stressful and insecure because in great part so much of one’s ability to succeed depends on others, many of whom either see only their own interests or are actively working against yours.
So, consider what Paul the Apostle in his letter to the Philippians said in giving them — and us — some timely advice about what we focus our minds on. It probably sounds to many today like something Cervantes’ Don Quixote or Voltaire’s Dr. Pangloss would say.
It comes as Paul concludes his letter with this admonition: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)
Then in the next verse comes this: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Philippians 4:8)
It turns out that modern science is confirming what Paul knew two millennia ago: The way you think has a profound influence on how you feel mentally and physically. It’s not an absolute rule, but it certainly stands as a helpful guide.
After HillFaith published yesterday’s post on telomeres, reader Jeremy Spear was reminded me of a Ted Talk he heard three years ago by Elizabeth Blackburn, co-author with Elissa Eppel, of “The Telomere Effect: A Revolutionary Approach to Living Younger, Healthier, Longer.”
In their book, Blackburn and Eppel wrote: “When our research team conducted a study on pessimism and telomere length, we found that people who scored high on a pessimism inventory had shorter telomeres. This was a small study of about 35 women, but similar results have been found in other studies, including a study of over 1,000 men.
“It also fits with a large body of evidence that pessimism is a risk factor for poor health. When pessimists develop an aging-related illness, like cancer or heart disease, the illness tends to progress faster. Like cynically hostile people — and people with short telomeres, in general — they tend to die earlier.”
Pessimists don’t follow Paul’s advice and on average they tend to die sooner than optimists. This effect of pessimism on life expectancy is one of multiple negative thought patterns analyzed by Blackburn and Eppel in their book.
Jeremy thoughtfully provided a link to a Ted Talk excerpt from the book and the video of Blackburn’s lecture. Fascinating stuff, especially for those who work on Capitol Hill where hope can spring eternal, or at least until the next election!