6 Emotional and Health Benefits Of Being an Optimist

Fortunately, I was able to travel to the country of Cyprus last month. The people I met were outside of this world, and one in particular was a 72 year old man. He talked with me about life, love, and happiness. And one of the things he told me was, “Your face mirrors your heart.” The second he said it, his words hit me like a strong wave that’s riding into shore. If our face mirrors our heart, then what is my face telling people that I might not want them to see? How can I better my own heart so that smiling and being joyful is natural all the time? This conversation got me thinking about optimism and pessimism and how the effects of both play a significant role in my heart and on my face.

Optimism vs. Pessimism

The contrast between the two is very noticeable, especially to friends and family. And they’re not afraid to tell you when you’re being salty either! I’m quite sure you know about how being an optimist is much more healthy than being a pessimist. So if I do my job right, I hope you learn about all the ways that being optimistic is actually our natural state as human beings.

Being optimistic is what our mind naturally leans towards. That right there might seem a little unbelievable, and I get it because we’ve all had our days where we act like Eeyore. But let’s try to imagine what our world would be like if we were all naturally pessimistic… All movies would have a sad ending, solutions and problems in life wouldn’t be solved, and I don’t think there would be a lot of restaurants and food options because everything would taste bad. That is not a world I want to live in! Especially because I love food! It is natural for us to be optimistic, but fighting off pessimism can be hard sometimes.

How do I be optimistic?

It’s really important to note that being confident and optimistic go hand in hand. It can be really easy to let our self-talk be negative. A large majority of the time we are the hardest on ourselves and not other people. When we all start focusing on positive self-talk imagine how different the world would be.

One of the things I learned growing up was that even if you didn’t believe it but you started speaking positive things then eventually you will start to believe it. Even if it feels funny or not right, start speaking positive things over yourself and build up your confidence. The only side effect of that would be more natural optimism in life, and that’s the only kind of side effect you want!

The following is an excerpt, including a definition of quality of life and how it relates to optimism. When I ran across it I thought it was so good, I just had to share.

“Quality of life refers to life conditions of an individual (health, wealth, social conditions) and satisfaction of personal desires, measured on a scale of personal values…Wrosch and Scheier evidenced two variables capable of influencing quality of life: optimism and adaptation of purpose. Both in fact exert a fundamental role in adaptive management of critical circumstances in life and of goals to reach. There is evidence that optimistic people present a higher quality of life compared to those with low levels of optimism or even pessimists. It has been demonstrated that in the presence of severe pathological conditions, optimistic patients adapt better to stressful situations compared to pessimists, with positive repercussions on their quality of life.”

What does adaptation of purpose mean?

I’m glad you asked! The adaption of purpose has to do with a person’s capability to adapt to different situations. It’s not easy, but it is possible “to reduce or avoid the negative psychological and physical repercussions consequent to the non-achievement of a goal (for example, becoming ill despite constant efforts to stay healthy) through a process of adaptive self-regulation targeted at disengaging oneself from an unrealizable goal and concentrating efforts instead on more attainable objectives.”

In other words, it’s important to see the opportunities that lie ahead of you when something negative happens. Oftentimes, the most rewarding possibility comes from something that was supposed to be negative, but because someone stayed positive even when they couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel they adapt to a more thankful and optimistic heart.

3 Ways To Ensure an Optimistic Perspective:

  1. Take time at the end of the day to reflect. Think about what made you happy and what made you upset. Be in tune with the emotions you’re feeling.
  2. Focus on the negative emotions and try to see the positive side in them. This can be challenging, but I promise there is always a silver lining. The old saying is true, things could always be worse!
  3. Say what you’re thankful for out loud. It is always healthy to speak things into existence! Declare your thankfulness and allow your body to resemble with it as well! You can also share what you’re thankful for with someone else. Once you start thinking about it, you will naturally smile and be happy!

6 Health And Life Benefits of Optimism:

  1. Improved Heart Health: Several studies have shown that there is a link between optimism and medical conditions. A study of 298 angioplasty patients showed that “pessimists were three times more likely than optimists to have heart attacks or require repeat angioplasties or bypass operations.”
  2. You Reduce Stress: A theory on how optimism can reduce stress “is that having a positive outlook enables you to cope better with stressful situations, which reduces the harmful health effects of stress on your body.”
  3. You Will Be More Satisfied And Fulfilled: “People who are more optimistic also tend to have healthier behaviors when it comes to diet, exercise and tobacco use.”
  4. You Build Better Resiliency To Adversity: “A growing number of scientific studies suggest optimistic people tend to live longer and have better physical and mental health than pessimistic people.”
  5. You’ll Be More Patient & Have A Better Attitude: “A significant positive relation emerged between optimism and different aspects of life, such as coping strategies focalized on the problem, and looking for social support.”
  6. You’ll Be Better Equipped To Handle The Rainbow of Emotions: “Optimism facilitates adaptive behaviors and cognitive responses that consent negative information to be elaborated more efficiently and that are associated with greater flexibility and problem-solving capacity.”

No matter how hard anyone tries, we will all have moments of pessimism. But let your optimism outweigh your pessimism by focusing on positive self talk and realizing that negative situations will have a bright side as long as you have a little faith to carry you through. Naturally, your mind leans towards optimism, so let it. Let optimism take over and let it be contagious to others. Allow your face to mirror your heart and let both of them smile wide. Next time there might be a problem, let yourself see it as a possibility. Even though things might not go as planned, there is a world waiting to be discovered beneath the garbage and remember, you might be the only one stopping yourself from the adventure

Works Cited:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2894461/http://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/optimism-and-your-healthhttp://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/positive-thinking/art-0043950https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?contenttypeid=1&contentid=4511http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2016/12/07/504709736/a-brighter-outlook-could-translate-to-a-longer-life

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