Optimism

ry=400WCSTQA9E My company has an elaborate “wellness program”.  We care about people being healthy and productive, and as it turns out, part of that is about being happy.

Tonight I went on-line and complete my annual health questionnaire for this program.  I had to face the sad statistics about my own eating an exercise habits.  One I don’t do much of, and with the other there is some excess.  You can guess which is which.  Having completed this questionnaire a number of times in past years, I knew there was a magical calculation happening in the background after each answer, and at the end it would produce what the program considers my actual age.   Not the number of years I’ve been around – which is getting to be an impressive number by itself – but the age I’m most like based on my overall health.  For example: a particularly fit and healthy 60-year-old might find their actual age is more like 42.   Nice.

Like it’s not scary enough to be almost 52.  Now I realize with every one of my answers on this questionnaire that number will go up….or down.  I don’t drink much alcohol at all (in spite of the fact that I work in the wine business and we brew beer and sake in our barn), so that’s going to bring my number down.  But then there’s the exercise.

Ahhhh….exercise.  I find myself trying to remember the last time I went to the gym.  My memory is failing me.  I’m sure it’s old age….not the fact that when you haven’t been to the gym for a long long long time, it’s hard for any age to remember.  It’s not like I don’t move around.  After all: I live on a farm.  I have chores.  And sometimes I get so inspired that I rip around quite a bit and work up quite a little sweat.  And then I reward myself with…something the kids might enjoy…like fresh baked cookies.  Hey, I’m just being a good mother.           

imagesL9XLN2EKSo maybe I gain a few years on my “actual age” for my sporadic exercise pattern.

And maybe the cookie frequency costs me a few more.  (Worth every single year, I have to say.)

Then there’s good news:  It turns out I have excellent, outstanding, off-the-charts emotional health.  Sure, I get cranky and sad and mad as much as the next guy….but wait: it actually appears to be less than the next guy.

The questionnaire asks a lot of questions about your work life.  Work is a source of stress for a lot of people, I realize. Yeah, I have stress at work, but I have fun, too.  I actually like my job.  Maybe not as much as I like the farm, but the farm is shiny and new, and work is old old old.  So to be happy at work is pretty cool.  It’s mostly because of the cool people I work with.  (Many of my best friends in the whole wide world are work friends.)   But it’s also interesting and challenging most of the time.  Puzzles every day.  Surprises around every corner.  Some of it makes you roll your eyes, but some of it makes you go, “WHOA!”  Plus, business is good because we’re good at what we do.  And it’s the wine business for goodness sake.  Can’t complain about that.

But here’s the part that intrigued me most about the emotional health section of this questionnaire.  I don’t remember the question exactly, but it asks you to rate your life on a scale of one to ten, based on how close it is to being the life you’d hoped for.

Wow.  Makes you think for a second, “What in the heck did I hope for?”

And when I added it up – warts and all – it was about an eight or nine.  There’s a “WHOA” for you.  Eight or nine.

And to be honest, the gap has mostly to do with the fact that we’re not done raising our kids yet, and I have a lot of hopes for their lives, and that’s just going to take some time to happen.

The question that followed it asks you to rate – on a scale of one to ten – where you think your life will end up.

Hmmm.  Ten.

So whether your chronological age is 20 or 60 or 100, recognizing how blessed you are is good for you.  No wonder Oprah got on her gratitude kick. And believing your life can get better is even better. It’s simple optimism, I recognize.  This little test knows that if you have optimism, you will be healthier for it.

.Then it becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy.

images80SLVQFA

And the best news of all?  It’s clear to me now that my optimism will buy me a lot of cookies and failures to exercise.

You may be wondering what my “actual age” turned out to be, with the emotional health thing running in my favor.  Well, let’s just say I could still use a flip-flop in my extreme approaches to diet and exercise.

But I’m optimistic.

 

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