Optimism: a Habit Worth Making

Hoping for the best keeps you healthy.

Posted Feb 17, 2016

If you’re outside looking up at the sky and see the sun partially covered by clouds, are you more likely to call the day partly sunny or partly cloudy? Optimists are more likely to focus on the sunshine, while the pessimists among us notice the clouds. Although we might assume our personal perspectives aren’t that important in the grand scheme of things, it turns out that optimists have some significant advantages over the cynics in the world.

Is the Box of Chocolates Half-Empty or Half-Full?

For instance, optimists are great folks to hang with at mealtime. They tend to underestimate their own weight, so they’re unlikely to judge you for digging into that second slice of cheesecake. They also exercise more regularly than pessimists, so they’ll probably reassure you that you can burn off the extra calories at the gym in the morning. Not only do optimists underestimate their own weight, they also tend to eat healthier diets. And live healthier lifestyles, in general. They are less likely to suffer from heart disease or die from cardiovascular problems.

Less Stress, Less Worry, More Fun

Optimists also worry less than pessimists. Optimists also expect that good things are going to happen for them. That’s a good thing – because that’s a frame of mind that actually enhances the likelihood that good things will happen. It’s like when you buy a new car and then suddenly begin noticing a lot more of that model on the road. If we look for positive signs along the way in life, we’re going to find them.

What we focus on in our minds is what we are training our eyes to see. If we spend our time worry about every possible way that things can go wrong, chances are we will create the reality in which they do. By focusing on past mistakes or worrying about how to keep from repeating a past mistake, we actually overload our brains and increase the likelihood of doing just that! Visualizing winning the race, giving an excellent presentation, or winning the election will increase our likelihood that these positive outcomes will occur. Rehearsing the win, rather than fearing the loss is a better strategy for success.

Looking for the Good Beats Cataloging the Bad Any Day

When you train yourself to look for the good in people, it’s much easier to find. Focusing on how to make things better instead of how much worse a situation can get is a behavior worth turning into a habit. Not only will you possibly change the way you view the weather, you’ll definitely change the way you live your life.