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Being Optimistic When the World Around You Isn't

Sometimes, it’s hard to be happy when you think about negative things that are happening in the world. It’s harder still when the people around you are constantly talking about all those negative things. But you don't have to join ranks with the pessimists. In fact, it's extra important to be optimistic when there's negativity surrounding you.

Being optimistic means that you possess an overall positive outlook of the world, trusting that good things will happen and that people's desires will be fulfilled. On the other hand, being pessimistic means you assume a negative outlook of

the world.

While most people fall somewhere in the middle between being a complete optimist and being a complete pessimist, we usually favor one outlook over the other. Learn how infusing some optimism into your life can benefit your health.

Benefits of Optimism

Choosing to be optimistic offers surprising benefits. These include:

  • Confidence: Optimism is linked with increased levels of confidence, especially when it comes to making decisions and feeling secure with the choices you make.

  • Decreased risk of illness: A study from the University of Pittsburgh concluded that women who had an optimistic outlook had a 30% lower risk of heart disease. A University of Michigan study linked optimism to a lower risk of stroke.

  • Improved quality of life: One study found that people who were optimists and had positive expectations about the future experienced an improved quality of life when compared to people who had low levels of optimism and to pessimists.

  • Longer lifespan: Research published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal found that optimists are less likely to experience disabilities as they get older and end up living longer than pessimists.

  • Mental health benefits: People who are optimistic tend to experience less stress and feel a greater appreciation for other people.

  • Relieved depression symptoms: Optimism is linked with lessening the symptoms of depression and even reducing suicidal ideation.

  • Sleep quality: Being optimistic may improve your sleep quality, which is a key component in improving and maintaining your mental health.

Avoid Negativity

You might refer to them as "whiners" or even "toxic," but however you think of them, pessimists tend to suck the positive energy out of the room.

It’s important to establish healthy boundaries with people who chronically choose to stay stuck in their own misery, especially if they don't show empathy for others.

You may also consider limiting your media intake. Watching too many tragic stories on the news or consuming too much political news on social media can decrease your ability to maintain an optimistic outlook.

Cultivate Positivity

While it’s not your job to make everyone happy, it doesn’t hurt to perk up someone’s day. Once a day, share positive feedback with someone.

At work, compliment someone about a good question raised in an email or salient points that they brought up in an important meeting. At home, praise your child for how hard they worked on their math homework. Or, tell your partner how much you appreciate them.


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