Optimism – The Key To A Much Happier And Longer Life! There’s something to be said for optimism. Perhaps you have noticed that your optimistic friends seem to be cheerier, probably more successful, and just all around enjoying life more than others seem to. Well, it turns out they might not be optimistic because of what’s happening in their lives, rather, their optimism breeds the rest.
It seems then that there are plenty of great reasons to be the optimistic type. Perhaps the biggest one, though, is that optimists live longer, and are less likely to suffer from depression. Not to mention that they are more fun to be around.
There has been research widely carried out on both pessimists and optimist. While pessimists look on difficult situations as personal and permanent, the optimist looks at life differently, seeing adversity as an external temporary experience. This results in fairly different outcomes for individuals. Maybe it isn’t time to take off those rose-tinted glasses.
Pessimists are more likely to walk from a difficult task when the going gets rough, and are far more likely to have depression. They see situations as being about them, thus have difficult overcoming tribulations.
The optimist tends to persevere. They are more willing to take different approached until they succeed. The optimist also understands that difficult situations and challenging times of life are just temporary.
Is optimism the key to a happy and healthy life? Let’s take a closer look.
What Is Optimism
It’s a form of positive thinking. This form of thinking includes the belief that your happiness is your responsibility, that your positive thinking can lead to good things in your future. That no matter what is going on in your life you can choose to see the good and embrace the positive aspects of even the most challenging situation.
You are more than likely familiar with the glass half full of half empty question. The purpose of it is simply to see how you view the world. If you see the glass as half then you are the optimist.
Optimists are of the belief that the negative events in life are simply rare occurrences. It is as a result of external factors, and not their personal fault.
For example, everyone has gone through a breakup. The optimist might wlak away after being dumped thinking, well it just wasn’t meant to be. While the pessimist may focus on the negative side of things, like what they did to cause the breakdown of the relationship.
Common Traits of Optimists
Optimists are great to be around and they share these common traits.
- Optimists are resilient
- Optimists are much less likely to quit anything
- Optimist practice and express gratitude
- Optimists care about altruistic
- Optimists are not drowning in negative thoughts
- Optimists often prioritize exercise
- Optimists are quick to forgive when they are wronged
- Optimists do not often dwell on the negative
- Optimists see the light at the end of any tunnel
- Optimists find the silver lining in any dark cloud
- Optimist look for the bright side
- Optimists have less stress and are better at handling stress
- Optimists find a way around defeat
- Optimists sleep better than pessimists
- Optimists surround themselves with positive people
- Optimists believe in “can” and reject “can’t”
- Optimists reject naysayers
- Optimists are usually smiling
- Optimists think outside the box
Benefits of Optimism For Mind, Mind, Body and Spirit
If you’re someone who sees a setback as just temporary then you may be one of the optimists among us. If not, you are missing out on the benefits of optimism for your body, mind, and spirit. Your way of thinking now is a habit, and any habit can be changed. However, these habits of thinking can result in a variety of drastically different consequences.
We mentioned above that pessimists are more likely to suffer from depression, and are likely to give up when faced with a challenge. There’s more, though, because pessimists are far more likely to suffer from poor health, too, everything from high blood pressure to heart disease.
Meanwhile, on the other hand, the optimist doesn’t just perform better at work and in extracurricular activities, they also experience better overall health.
Being an optimist isn’t all about feeling positive, it’s also about persistence, resilience, and motivation.
Optimists are better equipped to deal with life’s problems head-on. They don’t give up and walk away, they look at an issue from every angle and then plot their course of action. They aren’t afraid to take advice from others and they remain focused on finding a solution.
The optimist expects a good outcome every time, but even if they don’t get that they will learn from the experience and grow from it.
Meanwhile, the pessimist would take failure as personal and find it difficult to overcome the negativity that comes with that. This just causes stress and makes the pessimist difficult to work with.
The Stress Problem
There is one key problem that tends to stem from pessimism and that is massive stress. The effects that stress has on the body have been researched and documented widely.
- Up to 90% of visits to the doctor are for ailments that are related to stress
- Stress increases the risk factors for depression, diabetes, anxiety, heart problems, arthritis, skin conditions, and asthma.
- Stress causes headaches.
- Stress increases the risk of a lifetime disorder
If you’re reading this and thinking “Oh, no, but i”m half empty glass type of person!” Don’t worry, all is not lost.
What The Science Shows
As mentioned above, your way of thinking is simply a habit and it can be changed. Research indicates that practicing optimism now can reduce the previous effects of pessimism and stress.
- According to research from Harvard School of Public Health, published online April 17, 2012 in Psychological Bulletin optimism can protect your cardiovascular health. In fact, the research suggests that factors such as happiness, optimism, and life satisfaction reduced the risks despite a person’s smoking status, age, body weight, and socioeconomic status.
- In another study from the Harvard School of Public Health, it was found that middle- aged optimists have high levels of the good cholesterol, and low levels of the bad cholesterol.
- According to Harvard, an optimistic outlook on life plays an important role in your blood pressure levels, too.
- Your immune system works hard to keep you healthy, and optimism helps keep your immune system strong. The University of Kentucky studied the immune response of law students. Over a hundred students were tested five times over six months. Before each test, they would answer a survey about how optimistic they were feeling. They then received an injection to stimulate an immune system response. The larger the lump following the injection, the bigger the response, thus the healthier the immune system. The biggest immune system responses were found in those law students who were feeling the most optimistic about life.
- In a study published by the Canadian Medical Association Journal, researchers analyzed regarding over 3000 subjects aged 60 or older. Over the course of eight years, these individuals declined in mobility and how they handled daily tasks. However, it was the degree to which they declined that was different. In the initial research, 21% of participants reported a high level of life satisfaction, 23% with low, and 56% in the middle. Only 4% of those high-level participants experienced new impairments. For those with the least life satisfaction that was 17%. Additionally, 80% of those from the middle of the road and low satisfaction group were more likely to develop mobility and function issues.
- University of Michigan researchers followed over 6,000 non-stroke individuals for two years and discovered that each point increase on the optimism front reduced the risk of an acute stroke by 9%.
- The Melissa Institute points to the importance of optimism and resilience. Dr. Dennis Charney has studied people who have survived despite extreme stress. Those participants included earthquake victims, Special Forces, and prisoners of war. The survivors who were most resilient had a number of factors in common, however, the predominant common factor: optimism. The survivors believed that despite the challenge they would prevail.
- Advanced life expectancy
Do Optimists Live Live Longer?
Do optimists really live longer?
Well, optimism certainly has more of an effect on your life than just improving your mood. Yes, research from the Harvard School of Public Health (Jack P. Shonkoff, Julius B. Richmond) suggests that optimism may just increase your life expectancy. The study suggests that optimistic women were less likely to die from a variety of major diseases, including stroke, cancer, respiratory disease, and heart disease. This was when compared to pessimist women.
Prior research has indicated that optimists tend to keep in better health, but this study wanted to expand on that and find out whether optimism affects health behaviors that play a role in mortality.
Researchers reviewed data from 70,000 subjects taken from 2004 through 2012. This was from a research study that was tracking women’s health every two years using a survey.
There were six statements relating to the optimism measured and participants were asked to agree or disagree with each based on a five-point scale. The results were clear.
The top 25% of optimistic women were 30% less likely to die from the major diseases in the study when compared to those women in the bottom 25%.
Better Physical Health
There’s more, the most optimistic were:
- 16% less likely to diet from cancer
- 38% less likely to diet from heart disease
- 38% less likely to die from respiratory disease
- 39% less likely to diet from stroke
Researchers did carry out controls for a variety of factors that can have an impact on lifespan, including socioeconomic factors, marital status, and education level. The researchers believe that the relationship between advanced life expectancy and optimism is a cause and effect.
Those who are more optimistic tend to practice healthier behaviors. They exercise more, sleep better, and enjoy better diets. Even factoring in these aspects of life, the researchers found a strong link between optimism and longer life.
However, it seems from the research that optimism has its own independent effect on health and biological functioning. It has been linked with healthy lipid and biomarker levels and a reduction in inflammation. So, while optimists do tend to practice healthier behaviors, even those who don’t see a health benefit from their optimistic attitude.
Another aspect of the research is related to how people see themselves. If you’re not an optimist, you can modify that. Just because you aren’t something, doesn’t mean you can’t be.
You might not speak another language or play an instrument now, but you can learn those behaviors. Well, you can learn how to be an optimist, too. There are a number of steps you can take to become a more optimistic person.
13 Key Ways To Become More Optimistic
The optimists among us truly do make lemonade when life hands them lemons. The pessimists, however, will always find the cold regardless of how large the silver lining is. We now know that optimists are healthier than their counterparts, more successful, and live longer. If you aren’t an optimist, how can you become one? You can, but keep in mind it is a deliberate effort that takes lots of practice. Here are the key ways to get there.
1. Ditch the negative phrases.
Wipe out phrases like it’s impossible, it can’t work, and I can’t. Those types of statements are merely programming your mind to look for the negative in every situation. Change your thought process to
positive self-talk, and you will have to work at it. It’s difficult to break bad habits, so you will need to be mindful of when your thoughts turn negative and take the opportunity to turn them to positives.
2. Positive responses.
When someone asks you how you are or how you’ve been, don’t be tempted to say just fine, okay, or I’m getting by. Respond with a firm positive! You aren’t just fine you’re fabulous. You’re not just getting by, you’ve never been better. You may know someone who does this and it may bother you, but ask yourself why it bothers you. It’s probably because their happiness irks you because you don’t experience the same level of cheer.
3. Drop the whine.
It’s easy to be caught up in frustration, but why waste your breath and energy whining about colleagues, customers, the economy, your boss, or other things that are completely out of control? It’s draining you! The same can be said for personal issues or illnesses. It’s one thing to talk about your issues and work through them, it’s another to focus on them and allow them to drag you, and others, down. Stop throwing yourself pity parties and start finding the positives.
Insert more neutral words rather than those emotionally charged words. For instance, if life has indeed thrown a sack of lemons your way, instead of saying, I’m so angry, opt for I am dealing with a challenge. This will alter how you view a situation and switch your thinking from the rage to a more problem-solving mindset.
If an optimist is someone who remains positive, then you need to take a leaf from his or her book. An optimist gets into a car accident and loses their right leg. It’s certainly a traumatic event, but the optimist is more likely to focus on the fact that they are alive and still have their left leg. It isn’t about ignoring problems, it is about understanding that challenges, and setbacks are temporary and inevitable. It’s knowing that you have the abilities and necessary skills to overcome the challenge. Your situation may be serious and it will be difficult, but you must remain positive and hopeful about the future. Think of those people who get into serious accidents and are told they will never walk again, but they do. They are motivated, they are resilient, they are determined, and they are optimistic. Move your thought process from hopelessness to hopefulness. Always remember what comes after a storm: a rainbow.
If you spend your time with pessimists and gloomy people then there’s every chance you will be the same. So, avoid negativity by surrounding yourself with positive people. Optimism can be learned, and it’s also contagious, so choose people that will rub off on you. You can pay it forward by doing simple acts of kindness for others, like letting someone else have that great parking spot, or letting someone skip in front of you in the supermarket line. When you go out of your way to do something simple and kind for someone else it gives you a buzz, but it also gives them a buzz. Optimism can spread like wildfire.
Life isn’t always positive, so by realistic. You should expect ups and downs from life, but it’s all about keeping things in perspective. Understand that life will always throw up challenges, but it’s how you respond to them that are key. It’s all about hoping for the best, but being capable of handling the worst and coming out the other side.
8. Be an inspiration
When you expect the worst, which is what tends to happen. If you allow little things to bother you, then they will. There’s nothing more annoying than having someone tell you to smile when you feel down, but putting a smile on can make you feel happier. You can provide yourself with positive reminders to feed your optimism. Take time to write out optimistic statements and put them in places you see every day. Put them on the mirror, your computer, in the car, on the fridge, and wherever else you will read them. Consider comments like, you can do anything, choose happiness, and you can only control your own attitude.
Speaking of control, the majority of issues that create your pessimism are things that are entirely out of your control. It’s either something that hasn’t happened, or someone else creating a problem. Pessimism is a time bandit and you can’t take time for granted, it’s a limited resource. For every minute that you spend buried in negativity or worry, you have less time to spend enjoying life. The solution? It’s okay to acknowledge those things that you cannot control, but don’t be a victim. It isn’t personal. If your job is getting you down, find a new job! If you can’t leave for whatever reason, celebrate the reason and remind yourself of why you chose to keep that job.
There are many positives in your life, so it’s time you started celebrating them. Shrug off the negative things that are going on in your life and start embracing all of the blessings. A great place to start is with a journal! You can fill it with things that are guaranteed to make you smile, photos of friends, compliments you’ve been paid, accomplishments, and victories that you’ve achieved. Only put those positives in your journal. If you’re hung up on a negative thought, write it down (separately from your journal) then rip it up and throw it away.
Remember that every situation, no matter how bad or good, is fleeting.
12. The Present
Don’t obsess over your past, or the future. Life is happening all around you right now, so let go and enjoy it!
13. Fake it, till you make it
Normally we wouldn’t suggest that anyone fake it till they make it in any situation. However, if you can fake your own optimism then you are more likely to start feeling that optimism, over time it will become a habit and be as natural as breathing.
People have been chasing the fountain of youth for as long as they have been aging. We know there is no fountain of youth, it’s merely an illusion. However, there are plenty of things in life that can help you live a happier and longer life.
There are creams and serums to reduce the appearance of aging. You can eat healthy to maintain a healthy weight and reduce your risk of lifestyle diseases. Exercise will also help maintain your weight, improve your balance, and keep you strong and healthy.
It makes sense then that a positive attitude can play a key role in a happy and healthy life. Just think about how great your days go when you wake up in an excellent mood, raring to go!
Imagine feeling like that all the time. You can, because optimism is a choice. While some people may be naturally optimistic it doesn’t mean that you have to be naturally pessimistic.
There have been countless studies carried out on optimism and the vast majority of those have come to the same conclusion: optimism keeps you healthy. Not only do optimists cope better with adversity, but they have a stronger immune system, healthier babies, and they live longer, too.
Furthermore, it’s never too late to become an optimist. Think of all the cheerful people you know. They probably do pretty well in life, and they’re always happy.
That could be you, too!
Don’t allow negativity to control your life, instead, make the choice to be happy and spread it around.
STAY POSITIVE AND TAKE CARE!