Beyond Your Years with Luis Martinez
How to Be Optimistic in 2016
There’s something about optimism – faith, brightness, positivity, cheerfulness, confidence and sunniness that is not only healthy, but contagious. While we don’t often think about the cheerful people among us, we are always quick to say, “Where’s Mildred today? I miss her. She’s so cheerful, so uplifting.”
Now, tell me about a time you missed a pessimist. Yeah, that’s what I thought.
Well good news for you optimists – here’s to your health! There’s a great deal of documentation that optimism is healthy, and that optimists easily outlive their pessimist cohorts both in length and quality of life. Not to mention benefits for all others who catch the optimist’s positive bug. Medical studies have reported with confidence that optimism is good for your health. But how does that happen?
A Harvard Medical School review of clinical literature indicates that “Optimists enjoy better health and longer lives than pessimists because they lead healthier lifestyles, build stronger social support networks, and get better medical care.” The report also says, “Optimists are more likely to exercise, less likely to smoke, more likely to live with a spouse, and more likely to follow medical advice than pessimists.” All of which, in the aggregate, adds up to a better quality of life for sure and even a longer life as well. If you’d like to read more, there’s a good source here.
By contrast, pessimistic people do not easily integrate with their peers. Their tendency is to find fault with nearly everything, or blame their situation on what they perceive to be events out of their control. More often than not, they’re not satisfied with their circumstances; their dourness can be permeating.
Think of it this way – the mind and body do not exist independently of each other; they are interactively connected. Those who remain optimistic, even in the face of diversity and setbacks, are more likely to enjoy their circumstances for a better quality of life. A study conducted in Holland evaluated 941 men and women between the ages of 65 and 85. The results were that “People who demonstrated dispositional optimism at the start of the study enjoyed a 45% lower risk of death during a nine-year follow-up period.”
Healthy seniors are optimistic. A writer from 100 years ago, McLandburgh Wilson, described the difference:
“Twixt the optimist and pessimist
The difference is droll
The optimist sees the doughnut
But the pessimist sees the hole.”
Can you tell me about a time when you were optimistic? How did you feel? Did it make you smile?
Can you tell me about a time when you had a conversation with an optimist? What made you smile?
Luis Martinez is a guest blogger for St. John’s. He is an active senior that likes to observe and write about how people work at their careers, guide their businesses, strengthen their families, stay physically fit and mentally sharp, and race their sports cars. Luis habla español. Follow Luis on Twitter @BeyondYourYears, or email Luis@HumanCapitalSP.com.