Cynicism, the tendency to think that others only act out of selfishness, can do more harm than one would have thought. It has been shown to be associated with dementia: highly cynical people have more risk of developing dementia than those who are less negative.
They say positive thinking is the way to go – you avoid so much stress, you are happier, you live a healthier life, and, you think the best of others, including yourself, while negative thinking entailing thinking the worst of all and sundry makes one so much more miserable.
Is this just sugar-coated hearsay though? If it was once thought so, it now has scientific support – researchers from the University of Eastern Finland discovered a correlation between cynical distrust and an enhanced risk of having dementia. They defined cynical distrust as “the belief that others are mainly motivated by selfish concerns”. Cynicism may make sarcasm so much more exciting, but, the possibility that it is undermining one’s own health is large enough for those inclined to think the worst of everything to consider refocusing their lens and shifting to a more positive mindset. Thinking the best of others as opposed to believing that all are only out there seeking their own benefits at the expense of others could spare one from the increased risk into becoming demented.
What is Dementia?
Dementia is characterised by the loss of brain function: the people affected face memory problems, impaired cognitive abilities, personality changes – all the ingredients for one to be tagged as a lunatic. The evidence yielded from the study indicates that the more one tends to exert his mind to entertain negative thoughts punctuated with chronic distrust of others, the greater the chances of him losing function of his brain. Uh-oh.
The study evaluated 1449 subjects with mean age 71. The latter were tested for dementia. Together with with, they were assessed in terms of cynicism level. Data was gathered by means of questionnaires. From examining and quantifying the results generated from the survey, cynicism was found to be linked to dementia. It was thus found that the majority of the people judged cynical had a 2.54 times larger risk of developing dementia as compared to those who were the least cynical. This was deduced by closely analysing these variables in conjunction with other aspects like lifestyle, health, together with socio-economic factors.
However, the limitations of the study included the possibility that the participants already were beginning to develop signs of dementia when they were being assessed for cynical distrust. In this case, the study would reflect how imminent dementia could affect one’s way of thinking.
It is not the first time that researchers have touched the subject of cynicism and its effects on health. Cynicism has been linked with increased risk of dying and inflammation which impact negatively on the heart and lifespan.
You might want to think twice now before you cling on to the habit of judging others’ intentions to be based on selfishness. Positive thinking all the way! Who would have know, one can actually die out of negative thinking!