Live well with the three C’s

I like little rules to live by. One-liners that help you remember what works in life.
Such as, the “20/80” rule–20 percent of your effort will give you 80 percent of your results, and vice-versa. Time is the only real wealth we are given. The world steps aside for the man or woman who knows where he or she is heading.
And take time to smell the roses.
Yes, I like those little rules for living. They help me keep focused when life gets hectic and out of kilter. No doubt, that’s why I so much like the research of psychologist Suzanne Ouellette Kobasa.
As far back as the 1950s, researchers had studied the link between illness and major life stresses. Researchers even had devised a scale to measure life stress, and warned people at high risk to take especially good care of themselves for the following six months to a year.
Still, Dr. Kobasa was puzzled as to why some of the high-risk people seemed so uncommonly hardy—even in the face of extreme stress. “Is there a common denominator?” she wondered.
To answer her question, Kobasa and her colleagues studied 200 executives who had scored high on the stress scale–100 who stayed healthy under stress and 100 who got sick.
When the analysis was completed, it indicated that neither age, wealth, position on the career ladder, nor education accounted for the difference. What did emerge is the importance of three personal characteristics–commitment, control and challenge.
The three C’s of healthy living.
These three resulted in what Kobasa called “psychological hardiness.”
In his 1986 book, “Your Emotions and Your Health,” Emrika Padus reported Kobasa’s research in a chapter entitled “Commitment, Control and Challenge: The Winning Combination for a Long and Happy Life.”
Further research over the years has substantiated the initial results.
To your work. To your purposes for living. To your family. To your friends. To the values you believe in. To the things that matter to you.
And to yourself, to do the best you can with the gifts you’ve been given.
A sense of personal control over your life. Believing you can influence the outcome of your health by your behaviour.
Trusting your decision-making. Refusing to let other people tell you what to do against your better judgment.
Embracing change. When doors close, looking for new doors to open. Being brave enough to try new things and new places.
Seeing retirement as a challenge. A time to do the things you’ve always wanted to do. A time to use your life experience.
And a time to make a difference.
Kobasa and her colleagues also turned up other common characteristics of the people who remained hardy and healthy in the face of stress. Most important, they exercised frequently and had strong social support groups.
So would you like a long and happy life? Then why not listen to the researchers.
Make a “commitment” to the important people and values in your life, take “control” of your personal environment, and develop an appetite for “challenge.”
The stresses of life will come but you can develop psychological hardiness.
Marie Snider is an award-winning health writer and syndicated columnist. Write her at