Optimists live longer and suffer fewer health problems ……
“The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”
~ Winston Churchill
The ability to think about the future in positive terms is called “optimism.”
Optimists tend to expect the best, that things will turn out well; problems will be resolved. They see the light at the end of the tunnel. Conversely, pessimists, or ‘worst-case thinkers’, tend to expect catastrophe. When things go wrong, they’re convinced that the worst-case scenario is the most likely. In reality, we’re all optimists and pessimists to some degree, and this degree changes in different situations.
As someone who specialises in helping people overcome anxiety and stress, I was really pleased to discover that optimists:
- suffer less physical stress symptoms than pessimists
- have lower baseline levels of stress hormones compared to pessimists
- are less likely to experience anxiety disorders, because of their mind-set
- suffer fewer health problems
- generally live longer than pessimists
Whether you’re more a glass-half- empty or a glass-half-full person is most likely a result of your life experiences to date. And while you can’t change your past, you can change your mind-set to adopt a more optimistic thinking style.
In his excellent book Learned Optimism, psychologist Martin Seligman presents a theory of optimism. He explains how we can build more optimism into our lives by changing our ‘explanatory style.’ Our explanatory style is the way in which we explain to ourselves why things happen.
Seligman explains, "Specifically, optimistic people believe that negative events are temporary, limited in scope (instead of pervading every aspect of a person’s life), and manageable. Of course, optimism, like other psychological states and characteristics, exists on a continuum. People can also change their levels of optimism depending on the situations they are in."
For an example of how explanatory styles work, say a friend cancels your coffee date at the last-minute. If you’re pessimistic, your immediate thought is that you must have upset your friend in some way and that they are unhappy with you. If you’re optimistic, you’re more likely to think that something urgent must have come up that your friend had to attend to.
What if something good happens? If a pessimist is praised at work, they might think that their boss was simply in a good mood that day, whereas the optimist might feel a sense of pride in a job well done and be motivated to do even better.
The times when optimism really pays off are when you are faced with a life problem, challenge or setback. An optimistic thinking style at these times will increase your resilience, maintain hope and improve your chances of a successful or acceptable outcome.
Overall being optimistic makes life less stressful and more enjoyable. That’s why I choose to adopt an optimistic mind-set!
If you would like help to explore how my solution focused coaching approach can help you develop a more optimistic mind-set and reduce your anxiety or stress, call me on 021 056 8389 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
REMEMBER - "When you change your mind you change your life."
Have a wonderful, optimistic week.
Tony helps individuals to harness the power of their mind to achieve success and well-being in life, work and business. Tony's particular area of expertise lies in helping people to 'change their minds' so they overcome limiting beliefs and unhelpful habits and gain freedom from worry, anxiety and stress. Tony’s solution focused approach to coaching uses a range of techniques drawn from the fields of co-active coaching, hypnosis, positive psychology and neuro-linguistic programming (NLP).