13 Things You Should Know About Optimism
The glass is always half-full
- Looking on the sunny side is good for your heart. A 2015 study conducted in the United States found that optimistic people were twice as likely to have strong cardiovascular health because they had lower levels of stress hormones, exercised more and were less likely to smoke.
- According to a 2010 University of Kentucky study that monitored the link between the immune systems of first-year law students and their hopeful approach to their studies, positive expectations for the future can help strengthen immunity.
- Count your blessings. Emiliana Simon-Thomas of the Greater Good Science Center at the Uni-versity of California, Berkeley, USA, says that remembering what you're grateful for will boost cheerful emotions. She suggests trying to keep a gratitude journal to get into the habit.
- When it comes to cultivating a bright outlook, our sense of community is more important than our material possessions or even our career status, explains Simon-Thomas. "Having close relationships and interacting with people are terrific sources of happiness," she says.
- Research suggests that people who stay in the moment feel happier than those who spend too much time fantasizing about things they'll experience in the future,like a tropical vacation. Find your mind wandering? Simon-Thomas recommends practising mindfulness: take a moment to home in on your surroundings and the sensations your body feels.
- Research shows that athletic people are much more optimistic than their sedentary counterparts. Half an hour to an hour of brisk walking or jogging several times a week should do the trick.
- Solid sleep can make you upbeat. A 2013 study published in the International Journal of Behavioral Medicine found that adults who got seven to eight hours of shut-eye per night scored higher on tests for optimism and self-esteem than those who snoozed for fewer than six hours or more than nine.
- Happy thinking has its limits. Extreme optimists are less likely to save money or pay off credit card debt. This may be because they tend to worry less about their economic situations deteriorating in the future.
- As such, Barbara Fredrickson, a professor in the department of psychology and neuroscience at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, suggests viewing positivity and negativity like a sailboat, where negative emotions are the keel, balancing the boat, and cheerfulness is the mast, holding up the sail and driving the vessel forward. The goal isn't to eliminate gloomy feelings-the boat would capsize-but to balance them with cheery ones.
- To find that equilibrium, combine your sunny outlook with pragmatism. If you catch yourself getting lost in the clouds, consult statistics and set modest, reachable goals.
- Bring your positivity to work. When the chips are down at the office, a buoyant disposition can help you stay energetic, dedicated and invested in your responsibilities.
- To remain hopeful on the job, counter stressful moments with calming ones. Despairing over a missed deadline? Watch a silly cat video before getting back to work.
- Pay it forward. Positive thinking can prepare young people for school and the workforce-optimistic first-year university students are less lonely, have more self-esteem and are better able to set goals than their pessimistic peers. To build upbeat outlooks, encourage kids to establish a network of mentors and supporters that make them feel connected and confident.