BY FRANK WOOTEN “You’ve gotta have heart”
— Richard Adler and Jerry Ross, “Damn Yankees”
And you’ve gotta have a positive attitude to enhance your heart’s health.
That’s the crux of a Harvard School of Public Health review published Tuesday in the Psychological Bulletin. Citing “dozens of studies,” lead researcher Julia Boehm reported that the most optimistic people have half the risk of a first heart attack when compared to the least optimistic.
A pessimist can question that along chicken-or-egg lines. Are people healthy because they’re happy or happy because they’re healthy?
But you need not be a Pollyanna type to know that a bright outlook can make you feel good inside — and that a dark one can make you feel bad. And you shouldn’t have to be a Barack Obama or Mitt Romney booster to know that neither is as bad as his harshest critics claim.
Unfortunately, many Americans believe that if Obama is re-elected, our nation will suffer catastrophic consequences. Many others believe the same about Romney.
Heck, some folks figure that whoever wins, we lose.
Sure, this is an important election. Aren’t they all?
Sure, this right-wing optimist is rooting for Romney — and deems left-winger Obama’s free-spending, big-government, anti-business ways a serious threat. Yet that doesn’t mean the U.S. couldn’t bounce back from any damage done during a second Obama term. And a Romney victory doesn’t mean we’ll suddenly get out of the deep fiscal-fiasco woods.
Ultimately, the American people, through those we elect, must make the hard choices to restore bottom-line sanity to a deliriously unbalanced federal budget now spending roughly 40 cents of every dollar on credit.
Meanwhile, though who wins which elections and what they do once in office are vital concerns, obsessing over them can be depressing. Plus, as those studies show, getting stuck in glum gear is bad for you.
So take a break from the national gloom and doom spread by long, ugly, fear-mongering campaigns for not just the presidency but other elective offices.
Focus instead on the national pastime.
Recall that “gotta have heart” pep talk to the catchy tune from “Damn Yankees,” a musical that has been celebrating the triumph of gumption over long odds since its Broadway debut in 1955.
In that play’s case, the victory requires Joe Boyd, an aging fan of the Washington Senators, to strike a deal with the devil. That high-stakes transaction transforms him into Joe Hardy, a young slugger who powers the perennial cellar dwellers into pennant contention against the dreaded, powerhouse New York Yankees.
Hey, as the late rasslin’ great Buddy Rogers, the original “Nature Boy,” stressed: “They don’t ask you how you won, they ask you if you won.”
And in Charleston, as in New York, we’ve got a winning team affiliated with the Yankees franchise. Our Riverdogs are packed with up-and-coming talent — and are playing the West Virgina Power at 5 this afternoon at Riley Park.
Too bad farm teams no longer go by the parent club’s nicknames, as they did back when we had the Charleston Pirates and Charleston Royals — both apt pairings.
Considering our inexorable influx of newcomers from up north over the past few decades, the Charleston Yankees would have a nice ring to it, too.
OK, so you gotta have not just heart but patience while waiting for this column to finally revert to its primary theme, which is nicely summed up by our state motto:
“Dum Spiro Spero (While I breathe, I hope).”
So if you’re feeling down about politics, economics, traffic, cruise ships or anything else, climb out of your woe-are-we rut. It’ll be good for you — and your heart.
Or as those singing Senators deliver their uplifting message with high, hard harmony:
“You’ve gotta have hope, Mustn’t sit around and mope,
Nothin’s half as better as it may appear, Wait’ll next year,
And hope” Frank Wooten is assistant editor of The Post and Courier. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.