In life there are two types of people: those who view the glass as half full, and those who see everything as half empty.
Though eternally cheerful optimists are often regarded as pitifully naïve, research suggests that optimism has real health benefits.
It turns out that viewing the glass as perpetually half full pays off in a big way.
Get a Handle on Mental Health with Optimism
Optimism is an inherently mental state. As a result, it would seem logical that increased optimism improves overall mental health and outlook. In fact, more than 100 studies confirm the idea that optimists can expect to experience better mental health over the course of their lifetimes.
A Dutch study recently examined more than 600 disaster victims and discovered that the pessimists in the bunch were more prone to anxiety, sleep difficulties and systems of obsessive-compulsive disorder. The optimists, on the other hand, dealt with the disaster with few mental health issues.
We can deduce from this study that keeping an air of optimism at all times helps you manage stress with fewer negative impacts on your mental health. Of course, anyone who experiences a traumatic event may have some difficulties in the aftermath, but overall, optimists seem to be better equipped to handle extremely stressful situations without negative effects.
Optimism Has Physical Benefits
Even though the mental health benefits of maintaining optimism are pretty obvious, many people have trouble grasping the idea that optimism has very real benefits to physical health. Generally speaking, optimists have demonstrated better general health than their pessimistic counterparts.
In fact, studies have shown that pessimists have higher rates of infectious disease as well as general poor health and earlier mortality. This could be due to a number of things, including the fact that optimists are generally less stressed out and excess stress is a known contributor to the breakdown of the immune system.
Additionally, a lack of stress management skills can contribute to heart disease, so it stands to reason that optimists are less likely to suffer from hypertension and other heart health issues.
Be More Optimistic
Many people believe that optimism is an innate state of being. This is simply not true, and there are many ways to be a more optimistic person. One of the simplest ways of doing so is by eliminating negative self-talk and increasing positive thoughts about oneself. Though this may seem to be easier said than done, you can turn your normally negative thoughts into more positive ones with practice and persistence. Much of positive thinking comes down to forcing yourself to see negative situations as challenges that need to be overcome, as opposed to viewing them as insurmountable obstacles.
Finally, you can increase your optimism by practicing good self-care. Be sure that you are sleeping enough, eating well, and staying hydrated.
It also benefits your optimism to develop some sort of physical fitness regime. Even if you feel as though you are a naturally pessimistic person, it is possible to channel optimism and reap the physical and mental health benefits.
Are you an optimist or a pessimist? Let us know what you do to keep seeing the glass as half full in the comments.