Earth from Space Image from Wikimedia Commons

Earth from Space
Image from Wikimedia Commons

In the movie Independence Day, Jeff Goldblum‘s character is depressed at not being able to see the answer to the alien menace rapidly destroying the planet.  Deep in a secret government bunker with hundreds of other survivors, his character has hidden himself in a room to get drunk and depressed.  His father comes and tells him he’s no good to anyone like this, and that he needs to clean up and remember his blessings.  “Like what?” his character bellows.  His father reflects on all the tragedy and destruction covering the surface of the planet, then says, “Well, you still have your health.”

Dr. Bernie Siegel found that, with all other aspects of treatment being similar, there was one thing that universally improved the chances for recovery, positive response to treatment, aided with pain management, and ushered into the patient’s life a better quality of life.  He is an expert on the effects non-medical therapies have on medical treatments, and he said that overwhelmingly, evidence shows a positive attitude always improves the situation, well-being, and response to treatment which a patient undergoes.  Positive thoughts like gratitude, love, and happiness.  What would a terminally ill patient have to do with those?  Humans are resilient and creative enough to always find something of a silver lining in every situation – Dr. Viktor Frankl, holocaust survivor and brilliant psychologist, is a perfect example of this.  And Jack Canfield, author of the dozens of “Chicken Soup for the Soul” books, says that even the mere fact of access to a computer or radio means you are more blessed materially than most of the world’s population.  I asked a homeless gentleman once why he was so pleasant, he said,  “I have the beautiful sky and sun, clothes to keep me warm, and kind people like you to give me hope.”

In the movie “The Cure Is…” three survivors of terminal illness are interviewed along with doctors like Bernie Siegel, to discover the common factors to such instances of spontaneous recovery.  The answers are remarkable and simple.  We, each of us, has the capacity to affect the reality around and within us, and many times reality is altered by a simple change of attitude.  “The optimist will live longer with a better life than the pessimist in any given situation,”  Dr. Siegel observes, “even if the pessimist’s view of the world is more accurate.”