Why optimism is good for your, regardless of what the skeptics say.
I have become a huge fan of a blog called Brain Pickings. They have such interesting posts. Anyway – one was about the science of optimism. Go ahead and read it here: http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2012/12/12/science-of-optimism-sharot/
I like that it provides science to back up what I already feel which is that being optimistic is better than being pessimistic. And yeah, I realize that is confirmation bias at work, but I am too much of an optimistic to care.
Here is a synopsis:
“Though the belief in a better future is often an illusion, optimism has clear benefits in the present. Hope keeps our minds at ease, lowers stress, and improves physical health. This is probably the most surprising benefit of optimism. All else being equal, optimists are healthier and live longer. It is not just that healthy people are more optimistic, but optimism can enhance health. Expecting our future to be good reduces stress and anxiety, which is good for our health. Researchers studying heart attack patients have found that optimists were more likely than nonoptimistic patients to take vitamins, eat low-fat diets, and exercise, thereby reducing their overall coronary risk. A study of cancer patients revealed that pessimistic patients under the age of 60 were more likely to die within eight months than nonpessimistic patients of the same initial health, status, and age.”
In other words, optimism may be a bit irrational but that doesn’t really matter because the optimism helps us cope better with difficulties, leads us to take better care of ourselves and plan more effectively for the future. Take that pessimistic skeptics – you know who you are! Of course, the standard caveat applies – all things in moderation. The pessimistic skeptics aren’t completely wrong either – as always, it’s about getting the balance right.
The real question is what are you irrationally optimistic about and why do you cling to your optimism despite it all?