Warning: Pessimism is Hazardous to Your Health
Pessimism is hazardous to your health, according to a 25-year study at the world-renowned Mayo Clinic. The study wanted to identify optimism and pessimism tendencies in people. Therefore, the Mayo Clinic distributed a personality test to hundreds of participants. The results proved that, on average, pessimistic people die 19 percent earlier than optimistic individuals. In other words, optimistic people live 13-14 years longer, suffer less illness, and experience a better quality of life. I do not know about you but that matters to me. As a result, I checked out what else relates to this.
Additional Research on Pessimists and Optimists
Research also shows that optimists and pessimists clearly act differently when confronted by adversity. Pessimists lack confidence and envision the worst. This leads to hopelessness. It also creates added worry, fear, anxiety, stress, and depression. They often stop trying and are miserable. Unfortunately, this kind of world view destroys a person’s attitude, and decreases career opportunities. Subsequently, according to research it diminishes life expectancy.
Blind optimism can cause over confidence and carelessness. Yet under pressure optimists tend to continue to perform well. They say things like “Every day is a good day if you are above ground.” Furthermore, they cope better with life issues, make more money, and have a happier outlook on life.
Cognitive neuroscientist Dr. Caroline Leaf agrees with Mayo and says, “75-95% of illnesses are related to our thought life and diet.” Certainly, whether you are a realist, pessimist or optimist, the bottom line is that our thinking significantly impacts our physical and emotional well-being.
How to Gain Optimism over Pessimism
While we do not want to overlook the difficulties, we tend to face at times. An optimistic view looks for the opportunity in life. Recently we asked this question of top performing employees at a dozen of our clients: what do you want out of life? Their responses fit into these categories:
Do You Favor Pessimism or Optimism?
Where do your responses fit? These kinds of desires are the true motivators in life. Also, the above examples give us hope for positive living. You know as well as I do that there are tragic and insurmountable problems to solve in this world: human trafficking, climate change, poverty, hunger, war, disease, secular violence, and racism. The world desperately needs great ideas and people. Human progress accelerates when people break boundaries with an optimistic approach that declares the impossible possible. Most importantly, as William Clement Stone declared, “Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve!”
If this touches a chord with you, here are seventeen things you can do to cultivate more optimism over pessimism. If we as humans use only a small percentage of our potential, isn’t it worth the effort access more of it? For example, consider these ideas.
- Keep learning by regularly attending training or education courses.
- Read daily, especially uplifting stories or poems.
- Focus on your strengths not weaknesses.
- Associate with positive people.
- Set and write down your goals.
- State positive affirmations daily.
- Join a mastermind group.
- Listen to beautiful music.
- Exercise regularly.
- Volunteer to help others.
- Spend more time with those you love.
- Have fun.
- Compliment others regularly but genuinely.
- Develop your sense of humor.
- Do what you say you will do; cultivate trust.
- Listen more and talk less.
- Be a forgiver, not a hater.
Pulling It All Together
In conclusion, Dr. Martin Seligman, a pioneer in positive psychology, demonstrates that optimism is learned. Consequently, so is pessimism and helplessness. He teaches that there is a battle within everyone to overcome negative self-talk. He suggests coaches or counselors can help people work through it. In addition, Dr. Seligman states, “It’s no surprise that optimistic athletes, managers and teams do better. What is interesting is where they do better. It is in coming back from defeat and acting in the clutch.”
Also, do you want more success in life? See this complimentary guide and assessment on habits of optimistic and successful people not the pessimistic ones: Success Practices Assessment and Guidebook.
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