Your glass and telomeres | Mark’s Remarks

marksHow often have you heard the old adage “the glass is half full?” Not that one? Maybe you yourself have said it’s half empty. Whatever the case, you know the difference in your attitude toward that glass makes a difference in what category you fall into: that of optimist or pessimist.

I’ve always been middle of the road with most things. There are many times I will consider myself a great optimist. But I can become a pessimist with the changing of the wind. Because I am so full of myself, I tend to think I’m so unique with this but I’m pretty sure that several people feel the same way. Our changing circumstances often dictate what type of a “glass” person we are.

My optimism comes from my faith in Christ and what I know to be the truth in God’s word, the Bible. For many years now, I’ve been able to be a lot more “laid back” about life and about the curve balls life throws at you. Learning to rely on God for everything: your worries, your fears, your everything, can help you get more optimistic.

I was tickled to read an article not long ago about science’s role in our optimism and pessimism.It seems happiness isn’t just something you feel. Science has actually proven that being happy helps you live longer. Well, shoot. We had that figured out already, didn’t we?

No, really. Happiness has to do with our DNA, and our livelihood is affected by the social connections we make. Each of us has these things called telomeres which are little doodads that cap our DNA. They have to do with our cellular age. You know, how old you really are inside and not outside. You either have young cells or old cells.

So, I guess your cellular age can be a lot younger than your outside age. I mean, you can be younger inside than you look outside. The amount of friends you have, your social connections, has a lot to do with this cellular age.

Haven’t you been there before? You go through a period of time when you don’t feel that you have too many connections with folks. Maybe you feel run down or tired. Maybe you start to feel a little older. Yet, when you get out and get going, go to supper with somebody, talk on the phone with somebody and so on, you tend to get a little hop in your giddy up. You know what I mean? I know I’ve experienced it.

When you find yourself with few connections, few friends, little interaction; well, your telomeres are shorter. You don’t necessarily speed up the aging process, but you don’t get any younger.

Also, having social connections tends to help us be more optimistic. You go around having a little more hope than before. You have a better outlook on life.

And even if you are a closet pessimist, you can apparently pretend to be an optimist. No fooling. Even pretending to be an optimist can help slow down the aging of your cells.

Well, don’t look at me. This is what the scientists say.

Now let’s get out there and make some friends. Make connections. Get social! Make a phone call.

Lengthen those telomeres!

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Mark Tullis

Mark is a 25-year veteran teacher teaching in Columbia. Originally from Fairfield, Mark is married with four children. He enjoys reading, writing, and spending time with his family, and has been involved in various aspects of professional and community theater for many years and enjoys appearing in local productions. Mark has also written a "slice of life" style column for the Republic-Times since 2007.
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