01 Aug How to Be Optimistic About Everything
When challenges come our way, it may be easy to succumb to negative thoughts. But look on the bright side — optimistic thinking isn’t just in our heads. Thinking positively can also boost our physical and mental health Personality and quality of life: the importance of optimism and goal adjustment. Wrosch, C., Scheier, M.F. Department of Psychology, Concordia University, Montreal, QC, Canada. Quality of Life Research, 2003;12 Suppl 1:59-72. .
The Power of Positive — The Need-to-Know
Optimistic thinkers tend to anticipate the best possible outcome in any situation. (I may have totaled my car, but thank goodness for insurance!) And research suggests seeing the glass half-full is good for our health, career, and love life. Studies have found self-reported optimism predicts lower rates of mortality and cancer, and better cardiovascular health and immune function Optimism and physical health: a meta-analytic review. Rasmussen, H.N., Scheier, M.F., Greenhouse, J.B. Institute for Educational Research and Public Service, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 2009 Jun;37(3):239-56. Epub 2009 Aug 27. Optimism-pessimism assessed in the 1960s and self-reported health status 30 years later. Maruta, T., Colligan, R.C., Malinchoc, M., et al. Department of Psychiatry and Psychology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Mayo Clinic Proceedings, 2002 Aug;77(8):748-53. . Other research has found the benefits of positive thinking are especially pronounced in low-income countries Is the emotion-health connection a “first-world problem?” Pressman, S.D., Gallagher, M.W., Lopez, S.J. Department of Psychology and Social Behavior, University of California, Irvine, CA, USA. Psychological Science 2013 Apr;24(4):544-9. .
One study even suggests optimism helps women battle breast cancer (although researchers asked patients to remember how optimistic they were before their diagnosis, so the results might not be perfectly accurate) Breast cancer, psychological distress, and life events among young women. Peled, R., Carmil, D., Siboni-Samocha, O., et al. Department of Health Systems Management, Faculty of Health Sciences, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer Sheva, Israel. Bio Med Central, 2008; 8: 245. . And elderly people who hold positive stereotypes about old age generally recover better from disability than those who think negatively Association between positive age stereotypes and recovery from disability in older persons. Levy, B.R., Slade, M.D., Murphy, T.E., et al. Division of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Yale School of Public Health, New Haven, Connecticut, USA. JAMA 2012 Nov 21;308(19):1972-3. .
Some psychologists think optimists tend to be healthier because they cope better when they can’t meet their goals Personality and quality of life: the importance of optimism and goal adjustment. Wrosch, C., Scheier, M.F. Department of Psychology, Concordia University, Montreal, QC, Canada. Quality of Life Research, 2003;12 Suppl 1:59-72. . It’s also possible that people who think positively attribute less significance to stressful events Can Positive Thinking Help? Positive automatic thoughts as moderators of the stress-meaning relationship. Boyraz, G., Lightsey, OR Jr. Tennessee State University, Nashville, TN 37219, USA. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry 2012 Apr;82(2):267-77. .
But the benefits of optimism go beyond a clean bill of health. Forget the raving resume — there may be a connection between positive thinking and landing a stellar job. Optimists also have a better chance of securing a stable, loving relationship . Still, thinking positively may be easier said than done.
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