Negative Attitude And Outlook May Impact Brain Function As Well As Overall Health

Consistently viewing the world through a cynical eye may contribute to dementia, Alzheimer’s and coronary artery disease.

Consistently viewing the world through a cynical eye may contribute to dementia, Alzheimer’s and coronary artery disease.

“Being negative only makes a difficult journey more difficult. You may be given a cactus, but you don’t have to sit on it.”
– Joyce Meyer, Author and Evangelist


Is Being A Grinch Bad For Your Health? Research finds an association between cynicism and dementia. Cynicism is the belief that only selfishness motivates human actions, and that there are no selfless acts. Sounds like Grinch-like thinking, doesn’t it?


This way of thinking has been linked to poor health. Previous studies have reported that cynicism may be a predictor of adverse health outcomes, such as coronary artery disease.



Cynicism Is Associated With Additional Health Problems


Now, along comes evidence that cynicism is associated with additional health problems. The Cardiovascular Risk Factors, Aging and Dementia Study looked at the association between cynicism, dementia and death. This study measured cynical distrust based on the Cook-Medley Hostility Scale.


Dementia was diagnosed by objective criteria. Many other factors that could lead to dementia were also considered, including age, sex, blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, body mass index, smoking, alcohol use, socioeconomic class, and a test that, when positive, is sometimes associated with Alzheimer’s disease.


Those with high levels of cynicism died at a younger age, but this finding was explainable by other factors, including lifestyle choices, socioeconomic class and other health issues.


On the other hand, those with the highest levels of cynicism had a higher risk of dementia, even after considering all confounding factors. At present, the relationship between dementia and cynicism is just an association, not necessarily cause and effect. In other words, we cannot really say that being cynical is likely to lead to dementia, or that adopting a more positive outlook on life will prevent dementia. But, we do know that people who believe they are living a happy life, find life more enjoyable and live longer. So, don’t be a Grinch!



Are You At Risk?


Are you at risk? Are you wondering if you are cynical?  Consider these statements.  Do you think they are mostly true or false?


  1. No one cares much what happens to you.
  2. It is safer to trust no one.
  3. I think most people would lie to get ahead.
  4. Most people do not like helping others.


The more you think these statements are true (agree with them) the more cynical is your personality. The more cynical you are, the less healthy you may be.


Tips for good spirits: Seeking more balance in your life can bring happiness. Balance is a state of symmetry of all things in your life.  Spend time with people who make you smile, find a funny quote and post it as a reminder, watch a comedy, focus on the positive in your life, get moving, partake in activities that bring you joy, get outdoors for fresh air, listen to music, take a nap if you need rest, meditate, or simply jot down a list of items that make you happy.



Author: Heather Klaus, Medcor, Wellness Program Manager. Heather oversees Medcor’s internal wellness program for nearly 900 associates nationwide.  She also develops and supports wellness programs for Medcor clients.  Heather is a regular author and contributor to health and wellness blogs, videos and newsletters.  Heather holds a Bachelor’s in Science from Northern Illinois University in Nutrition and Dietetics. She is a certified trainer, fitness instructor and Lifestyle and Weight Management Consultant.  Contact:

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