Humans, often times are dealt a similar hand of cards and faced with the same life challenges. Whether it is financial, relationships, health or just all around stresses that life can dispense. After doing some soul searching of my own, through my own various stresses, namely health, I began to become curious as to what the researched affects of an optimistic mindset has versus that of a pessimistic approach. It has been said that positivity is half the battle, “attitude is everything…” But in times of crises, does it really hold us up? Could optimism be the placebo effect?
Often times we can’t see past our own sad stories, or we are too stressed to endure that power of positivity. Medical records and the Mayo Clinic have reported that the power of positivity versus negativity can weigh greatly on your health. “Indeed, some studies show that personality traits like optimism and pessimism can affect many areas of your health and well-being. The positive thinking that typically comes with optimism is a key part of effective stress management. And effective stress management is associated with many health benefits.” ( The Mayo Clinic, 2011).
The basis of the two different types of outlooks comes down to coping mechanisms, as well as stress management. One who tends to solve things, such as hardships with a sense of humor as well as active problem solving are often categorically optimistic people. On the other side of the spectrum, those who tend to burry their head in the sand during tough times and avoid facing challenging obstacles are commonly pessimistic minded. Putting a positive spin on things doesn’t just help the mind and soul, but also the body and has even been said to cure the common cold, as well as other varying diseases, even some life threatening. The standard behind this viewpoint on optimism and better health comes from the understanding that most often, optimists are take charge types of personalities. Characteristically, an optimist is concerned with all areas of their life and improving upon their life, such as their specific diet, exercise, the amount of sleep that they get each night and lastly the people that they chose to surround themselves with. All encompassing, this leads to a healthier lifestyle, with greater happiness and self-preservation against negativity. On the contrary, pessimists typically have on their mud-colored glasses and reject ownership of their own contentment, often resulting in depression, higher stress and less satisfaction with life.
Unrelenting, we all have life stresses that we should not be ashamed of. But, perhaps the outlook in which we take, will determine the outcome in which we will arrive upon. Certainly there is a middle ground between rose-colored glasses and mud-colored. It’s important that we see things through clear specs, but attempting to engage in positive thinking may enhance our overall life experience and who knows, perhaps our lifespan.
Next time you have a negative thought or approach to a situation, whether it be your health, finances, relationships or life in general, affirm yourself with the positives that you have going for you and it could mean the world of change.
Via the Mayo Clinic, exploration has been determined that optimism can reap the benefits of improved health through means of the following.
Health Benefits: (The Mayo Clinic, 2011)
- Increased life span
- Lower rates of depression
- Lower levels of distress
- Greater resistance to the common cold
- Better psychological and physical well-being
- Reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease
- Better coping skills during hardships and times of stress