Optimism is a positive emotion about the future, and it would behoove us (and our sense of joy) to generate more of it in the present moment. See the brighter side of life–here are 5 reasons it’s good for you to be optimistic.
“An optimist sees an opportunity in every calamity; a pessimist sees a calamity in every opportunity.” – Winston Churchill
Optimism in a Nutshell
Optimism can be defined as “the perspective that good things will happen, and that one’s actions account for the good things that occur in life.”
Being optimistic does not mean that you are out of touch with reality. Optimism does not equate to the belief that good things happen by themselves, without ever needing our energy or hard work, either. The optimist looks to the future with a smile, expects the best and puts the energy behind that expectation in order to increase its likelihood of coming true.
Optimism is a way of living one’s life as though love dissolves fear, peace matters more than being right, and joy burns out the pain.
By viewing the world as a positive place, you realize that this wonderful life is worth living and loving. When life seems like a dark whirlwind of negativity, remember that there are so many incredible reasons to be a beacon of light.
5 Brilliant Reasons to Be Optimistic
1. Strong Relationships
In general, optimism is a socially valued trait, which tends to make optimistic people well-liked by others. More specifically, an inclination toward optimism delivers the following benefits:
- The level of perceived support (the belief that others will be available to offer support if needed) is higher among optimists.
- Optimists are less likely to withdraw from conflict, probably because they expect that a successful resolution can be found.
- Optimists are are more cooperative and constructive when a situation requires problem-solving.
- They have longer, more satisfying relationships.
- Being more charismatic, they are perceived by others as more likely to succeed. In fact, optimists experience significantly better job search outcomes than pessimists with similar skills. They spend less effort searching and find jobs more quickly, and are more likely to be promoted.
- As noted in the book Authentic Happiness, optimism supports long, healthy marriages.
2. Better Health
Optimism is a significant predictor in positive physical and mental health outcomes. A comprehensive study links optimism to a better outcome on eight measures of physical and mental function and health.
A positive outlook can help people cope with disease, recover from cardiac surgery, and protects against high blood pressure and developing coronary artery disease.
In teenagers, optimism and hope bolster resistance to depression.
3. Higher Achievement
Optimists are more persistent and more successful in pursuing their goals. Optimists tend to have more favorable expectancies than do pessimists. In other words, optimists believe they can achieve their goals, and are therefore more likely to pursue these goals, and thus attain better outcomes.
Optimists connect good events to permanent causes, such as their traits and abilities, and they try harder the next time they succeed. They don’t give up. They keep moving forward, because they believe in themselves.
When progress toward a goal is disrupted, an optimist experiences less (pervasive) negative emotions. In fact, they will use coping strategies such as acceptance, humor, and positive reframing in order to lessen the problem’s impact.
The pessimist, on the other hand, assumes blame for bad news, believes their trouble will last forever, and lets the bad event affect everything in their life. Optimists interpret setbacks as temporary, controllable, and specific to one situation.
Research shows that optimism is valued in business executives, leaders, and entrepreneurs when the need arises to motivate others or seal a deal. Whether or not it leads to better performance on the job, however, requires additional research.
4. Greater Happiness, Longer Life
What determines a long or short life? Happiness, it seems. Optimism, to be sure. In Dr. Martin Seligman’s book Authentic Happiness, he points to the most remarkable study of happiness and longevity ever conducted. In 1932, 180 nuns were studied to see how long they lived and how healthy they were.
To quote the pages of this book:
The study discovered that 90 percent of the most cheerful quarter was alive at age eighty-five versus only 34 percent of the least cheerful quarter. 54 percent of the most cheerful quarter was alive at age ninety-four versus 11 percent of the least cheerful quarter.
The trait of optimism helps explain how a single snapshot of the momentary happiness of nuns could predict how long they will live.
An optimistic nun is a happy nun, and a happy nun is a long-lived nun. Optimism is a positive trait (which can be strengthened), an abiding disposition whose exercise makes momentary feelings of happiness more likely, and an abiding state of joy more attainable.
5. Greater Life Meaning
If you’ve ever had the pleasure of reading Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl, you understand the life-giving importance of discovering meaning in your days.
Those with higher levels of positive thinking associate stressful events with greater meaning of life, while people with lower levels of positive thinking associate stressful events with lower meaning of life. Actually, optimists find meaning in both positive and negative aspects of well-being.
To be optimistic is to believe in the higher purpose of all experiences–happy times and dark times, good events and bad events, times that support our peace and times that challenge our faith.
When the Going Gets Tough…
Keep going. Do your best. Sometimes it seems unrealistic to be optimistic, but that’s okay. Perhaps these times are the most important times we need to work on developing a more uplifting disposition. Perhaps this is when we need to practice forgiving ourselves for being in the dark in the first place.
It’s human to be pessimistic at times, yet we can maintain the perception of our capacity to pick ourselves back up again, because this too shall pass.
If you’re having a tough time feeling grateful, these reminders may help you connect with the grace of life again.
Optimism, appreciation, abiding happiness–it’s all meaningful work.
- How do you stay optimistic when it’s easier to cling to negative views?
- What reminders (happy thoughts, mantras, affirmations, etc.) help you trust that everything is okay?
- How has staying positive bettered your life?
Please share your thoughts, lessons, and experiences with me in the comments.
Share this post with someone who is worthy of some peace and happiness today.
Believe in the higher purpose of all your experiences; light will enter your heart.