Power of positive thinking has amazing results when coping with major challenges

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DENVER -- Olympic gold medalist Amy Van Dyken-Rouen smiles and shares an amazing message with reporters as she arrived at Craig Hospital in Englewood from Arizona Wednesday.

She's in Colorado for extended treatment after ATV accident severed her spinal cord.

She shouted, “Doing alright, rockin’ and rollin.’’ Then later explained, “Yes this injury sucks and yes things hurt, but I`m alive and I`m so thankful to be alive.”

Van Dyken-Rouen’s spirit continues to draw attention from around the world from people who can’t begin to imagine the strength it takes to have that kind of optimism in the face of such a challenge.

Doctors have long touted the importance of that kind of gratitude and positive thinking.

Kaiser Permanente psychologist Dr. Joanne Whalen says having a positive attitude can have an enormous impact on a person's ability to cope.  She says, “Even if it's really small things in the face of a much larger illness or injury it can really bring us a sense of taking some action.”

Medical studies have also proven that people who don't have the ability to at least try to be positive tend to have a higher stress level, which can slow the body's healing process.

Having a positive attitude can begin at a very young age. Psychologists say parents can make all the difference by teaching kids to find balance in the way they perceive things that happen to them.

Dr. Whalen says, “Positive thinking is not just about not having our head in the sand and not recognizing real challenges. Positive thinking is about focusing on things we hope for and can work toward.”

The world will continue to watch as Amy Van Dyken-Rouen moves forward in this difficult chapter of her life.  She is surrounded by love and support as she continues to find light in these darkest of days.

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