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by Dale Connelly, 2/11/00

Dc: This is DCR, a news program not to be believed. A new report from the Mayo Clinic suggests that optimists are healthier and may actually live longer than pessimists. This is another study in a growing body of research that suggests our mental attitudes about ourselves and our view of the world can have real, physical effects on health. Here to discuss the topic is Dr. Happy Josephs, a professor of mood studies at Carol Channing Community College. Dr. Josephs, are you surprised that optimistic people are healthier?

Happy: (downcast, depressed) Sure, I guess.

Dc: You are?

Happy: (testy) What, I'm not supposed to be surprised?

Dc: Well, there's a "growing body of evidence ..."

Happy: OK, then I'm NOT surprised.

Dc: Well, if you're surprised that's OK, I just ...

Happy: Why don't you just tell me what you expect to hear.

Dc: Don't you care?

Happy: Sure. But it's just more of the same old same old. Studies like this make the happy happier and the gloomy ... it's that old thing about the rich getting richer, you know? It's discouraging to someone like me.

Dc: So you're a ... pessimistic person?

Happy: What gave it away?

Dc: Well, there's something about your ...

Happy: Look, I actually don't think of myself as pessimistic. Realistic is more like it.

Dc: But optimists think they're being realistic too.

Happy: They're wrong.

Dc: But haven't we long suspected that optimism is something of a tonic?

Happy: We? Optimistic people have suspected it. And gone on and on and ON about it. Personally, I'm tired of hearing how GREAT people feel because they (mocking) "always look on the bright side."

Dc: But this Mayo Clinic study suggests ... for whatever reason, it works.

Happy: Big whoop! I don't see that it matters.

Dc: If pessimistic people are struggling with disease ... Doctors might make some real progress by pointing out that if they just try to feel more optimistic ... it'll help! You know ... "put on a happy face"?

Happy: Why stop there? Why not grab them by the face and pull their mouths into a smiley shape? "Let a smile be your umbrella." Maybe we could USE an umbrella to brace it.

Dc: That sounds kind of uncomfortable.

Happy: If it helps lower medical costs, isn't it worth it? We're only talking about dumb old sicky pessimists here anyway. Let's force them to be happy. They probably expect it.

Dc: I think you're being facetious.

Happy: For good reason.

Dc: And snide and negative and combative. And pessimistic.

Happy: Here I am. Live with me. It won't be too tough. If this research is correct, I'll be dead before long and out of your hair.

Dc: Is "Happy" your given name?

Happy: No, my given name is Bernard. People have called me "Happy" since I was seven.

Dc: Why?

Happy: (miffed) Why do you think?

Dc: Sorry. Maybe this particular bit of research is a sore point with you.

Happy: (duh) May be!

Dc: But you can see why there's so much interest. Companies are beginning to connect mood and productivity, and stability among employees. And that lends some credence to your field of Mood Studies.
Isn't that good? Positive?

Happy: Yah.

Dc: Don't you find that professionally ... encouraging?

Happy: Well ... there's more grant money available ...

Dc: See? That's a cheerful thought.

Happy: But you know where this is headed? Before long a certain mood, temperament, and "emotional orientation" are gonna be job requirements.

Dc: So that's good!

Happy: Well ... YOU would think so.
But then optimists will always find something to gloat about.

Dc: Happy Josephs, professor of mood research in the Department of Emotional Studies at Carol Channing College. Thanks for coming in.

Happy: Yah yah yah.

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