Last update: 24 March, 2022
We all know someone with a smile always on their face and a positive way of dealing with problems, capable of making jokes even in the most dramatic situations. For many people, such conduct is impossible; for others, however, being optimistic is a way of life.
Optimistic people see difficulties as experiences to learn from. Even on the most miserable day, they are convinced that the next day will be better. They always see the bright side of things, and more positive events occur in their life. This optimism allows them to be less stressed and to enjoy great physical and mental health benefits.
These claims are not based solely on collective experience. Researchers have been studying optimistic and pessimistic people for years and came to the conclusion that an optimistic world view offers several advantages.
Being optimistic translates into better results
Martin Seligman of the University of Pennsylvania analyzed the explanatory styles of sports teams and found that more optimistic teams create more positive synergies and better performance.
Another study shows that pessimistic swimmers who have been led to believe they've done worse than they actually did tend to perform poorly over their lifetime. Conversely, optimistic swimmers do not show this trend. This research has led some companies to prefer optimistic employees, which seems to be paying off.
Optimistic people enjoy better physical and emotional health
Scientific research shows that people optimists enjoy better health. A study of ninety-nine Harvard University students indicates that those who were positive at the age of 25 enjoyed better health between the ages of 45 and 60 than those who were pessimistic.
Other studies have linked a pessimistic explanatory style with higher rates of infectious diseases, poor health and premature mortality. In terms of emotional health, a study in clinically depressed patients found that twelve weeks of cognitive therapy (which involves reformulating thought patterns) is more effective than medication.
Specifically, the positive changes were more lasting. On top of that, patients who have received training on being more optimistic they proved to be better able to handle future setbacks.
Being optimistic means being more determined and long-lived
Optimists don't give up easily, which makes them more likely to succeed. Take, for example, the case of businessman Donald Trump, who failed several times, but who managed to resist and turn his failures into successes.
A retrospective study of thirty-four healthy American Hall of Fame baseball players, who played between 1900 and 1950, reveals that optimists live much longer. Other studies have shown that optimistic breast cancer patients respond better to treatments than those who have lost hope.
Optimists are less stressed
Optimistic people also tend to experience less stress than pessimistic or realistic individuals. This is because they believe in themselves and their abilities, which is why they expect only positive events to happen to them. They see negative events as small setbacks to be overcome easily.
They interpret positive events as proof that others are yet to come. In addition to this, not only do they believe in themselves, but they also take more risks and create more positive events in their lives.
Scientific research shows that optimists are more proactive in managing stress, fostering approaches that reduce or eliminate stressors and their emotional consequences. By working more on stress management, they are less stressed. If being positive has so many benefits, why not start cultivating optimism?