February 1st, 2014| Topic: RaMbLeS | 5


There is no doubt negative emotions do a number on a person. They tear one apart. Whether it be guilt, fear, anger, depression, or envy. They keep one from happiness and fulfillment. In a never-ending, snowballing cycle, such feelings only prey on a person’s joy, sucking it out of them. Like a dementor.

[For those of you unfortunates who have no idea who/what a dementor is, let me explain. They are a creation of J. K. Rowling, dark characters in her seven-part saga detailing the war between good and evil (Albus Dumbledore/Harry Potter and their gang v. Lord Voldemort and his vile horde). Among the foulest beings on earth, these agents of Voldemort are phantom-like, cloaked, and huge, their presence making the entire area grow cold and dark. They devour the happy thoughts and memories of their victims, leaving only nightmares in their stead. Their coup de grâce is the “Dementor’s Kiss” whereby they consume the soul of a person, leaving the latter in a vegetative state. Apparently, Rowling created these negative beasts after a time in her own life when she suffered clinical depression.]

So here’s the question: If negative emotions are harmful, are positive ones—happiness, satisfaction, peace, fulfillment, contentment—helpful?

A study published early this year in the Canadian Medical Association Journal has shown that they, indeed, are. The study looked at over 3,000 people, sixty years and older, analyzing their attitudes to life and how they got through daily routines over a period of 8 years. Of these subjects, 21% had a high level of enjoyment of life, 56% a medium level, and 23% a low level.

Over the eight-year span, only 4% of those who were upbeat about life developed two or more functional impairments. On the other hand, 17% of those who weren’t all that upbeat acquired those mobility and functional problems.

People assessed as enjoying life at a lower level were about 80% more likely to develop problems than their happier counterparts over a period of 8 years—a striking observation!

(This study, of course, focused on functional impairment. Other studies had already shown that positive attitudes are associated with longer survival and reduced incidence of serious illness like coronary heart disease and stroke.)

Of course, this study looked at older folks. But there’s no reason to suspect the same may be applicable to all others.

The authors conclude:

This is an observational study, so causal conclusions cannot be drawn. But our results provide evidence that reduced enjoyment of life may be related to the future disability and mobility of older people.”

But this is nothing new. About 3,000 years ago one biblical sage wrote:

A joyful heart is good medicine,
But a broken spirit dries up the bones.
Proverbs 17:22

And that is not simply “the power of positive thinking.” Not at all. We have reason to be positive.

For ours is a God whose presence is assured to us.

“I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you.”
Hebrews 13:5

Ours is a God whose grace is enough for us.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.”
2 Corinthians 12:9

And ours is a God from whose love, nothing can separate us.

… neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present,
nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing,
will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:38–39

Be positive. Trust God. Live healthy.


  1. Amin February 4, 2014 at 8:47 pm

    “Thank you Lord for one more day which was not promised to us.” Our camp director at Pinecove family camp last year would start every prayer with this blunt and candid gratefulness. After such admission of grattitude at the beginning of every prayer, we have an obligation to follow and obey Phil 4:8. Thank you so much Abe for the weekly rambles.

  2. rodney February 3, 2014 at 4:33 pm

    Informative, uplifting, and encouraging … what an awesome post. Just what I needed, thanks. :))

  3. Ted VDH February 3, 2014 at 2:26 pm

    Abe, great post as usual! Phil 4:8 is another wonderful verse for positive thinking.


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