Does it sometimes seem as if everybody else is getting a better deal than you in life? We all have friends, family or colleagues who are perpetually positive and it seems nothing gets them down, even when times are hard. It’s true that some of us are more prone to positivity and optimism than others, but what does that mean for those of us who tend to see the glass as half-empty? Thankfully, it doesn’t mean we have to be this way as no one is genetically doomed to pessimism if they take active steps to change their outlook. By being a more optimistic person, we can achieve the same levels of satisfaction in our lives like anyone else, but the benefits don’t stop there.
Here are 5 persuasive reasons to try and adopt a more optimistic attitude to life.
1. Optimistic people feel (and are) healthier
Optimistic people have an inherent belief that the world is good and that things will work out for the best in the end. A study of over 150,000 people from 142 countries found that this has a knock-on effect in terms of how optimists view their own wellbeing and health, i.e. they are more likely to view their health in a positive light.
What’s more incredible, however, is that positivity and self-acceptance are connected to heart health. According to a study by Harvard Medical School, more optimistic people are less likely to develop cardiovascular disease, high cholesterol and take less time off from school and work as their immune systems tend to be stronger.
2. Optimistic people live longer lives
With the positive effect of optimism on our health, it’s no surprise that optimists (on average) are more likely to reach 100 years of age. This is again backed up by some key studies by the University of Pittsburgh which found optimists were less likely to die (of any natural cause) than pessimists. Perhaps this can be linked to a separate study by Concordia University in Quebec which found that optimists produce less of the stress hormone cortisol and did not perceive themselves to be stressed during difficult times.
3. Optimistic people are more ambitious and luckier
A person with an optimistic outlook is often more likely to take chances, aim higher and grab opportunities when they come along. This can be seen in all aspects of life from applying for jobs and promotions, taking part in competitions or placing a bet on the lottery and even in our personal lives. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that a positive outlook in a romantic relationship is an advantage over those which are prone to pessimism. When one or both partners is prone to optimism levels of contentment are higher than in relationships were both partners tend towards negativity.
In fact, a study by the University of Pennsylvania links pessimism to improved success in athletes. A group of swimmers were asked to swim as fast as they could but then given a false, longer time. They swam again and while the pessimists in the group performed more poorly than the first time, the optimists used the negative feedback to motivate them to swim faster.
4. Optimistic people have more rewarding careers
Optimists often view their careers as more fulfilling and will make fewer complaints than pessimists, while the reverse is true of pessimists. In addition, optimism can make a huge difference when it comes to applying for new positions or a promotion. Self-belief and a hopeful approach to your career can make you not only a more attractive candidate, but can also make you a more valued employee earning a higher salary.
5. Optimistic people are better at overcoming challenges
Whether we’re a pessimist, optimist or somewhere in between, everyone faces setbacks and challenges in their life. The difference between us is the way we choose to manage those experiences. Choosing resilience, positivity and hope over anxiety, despair and stress brings rewards to everyone in the end; we need to change the way we view ourselves and make circumstances work in our favour.