Are you the type that looks on the sunny side of life? If so, awesome! If not, have you ever thought about trying it? Science makes the case.
The Value of Optimism
A number of recent studies found that optimism – the general expectation that one will experience more positive than negative outcomes in life – is associated with greater satisfaction and happiness, lower levels of depression and stress, lower risk of health problems, increases your lifespan, fosters stronger relationships with others, and even faster recovery from illness.
That’s right – if you think you’ll heal faster, you’ll literally heal faster. Science.
But it’s not that easy, right? You can’t just snap your fingers and be an eternal optimist!
Of course, it’s more nuanced than that. But that doesn’t mean your worldview can’t be shaped. “From my experience, optimism is both a personality trait and a product of our environment,” says Karol Ward, LCSW, a licensed psychotherapist. Part of it is genetics. Part is our home environment as a child. Only about 25% of optimism is inevitable.
So what are some of the ways we might cultivate optimism?
- Start by consciously thinking happy thoughts. Try challenging yourself to consider that there’s another way of looking at things.
- Be around positive people. Positive emotions are contagious!
- Turn off the news. Need we say more?
- Keep a daily gratitude journal. At the end of the day, jot down one or two things you experienced or witnessed that filled you with gratitude. This is a great way to get your optimism ball rolling.
- Acknowledge what you can and can’t control. So much of the stress and pessimism stems from ruminating on that which is out of your control. Focus instead on what you can do in each situation.
- Don’t forget to acknowledge the negative! This one may seem out of place on a list of ways to be more positive. But it’s important to keep a balance, or else you might find yourself in denial about your current reality.
Give these a try and let us know what you think! For more ways to be optimistic, and for more of life’s mantras that help you shape a happy, authentic life, join our program! Finally, a monthly subscription that actually helps you live a better life!
We’ll see you on the sunny side of the street,
The Bodhi Band Team
Boehm, J.K., & Kubzansky, L.D. (2012). The heart’s content: The association between positive psychological well-being and cardiovascular health. Psychological Bulletin, 138, 655-691
Scheier, M.F., & Carver, C.S. (1992). Effects of optimism on psychological and physical well-being: Theoretical overview and empirical update. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 16, 201-228.
Seligman, M.E.P. (2013). Flourish. New York, NY: Atria.
Steinhilber, B. (2017). How to Train Your Brain to be More Optimistic. NBCNews.com.