Optimism and Health

Optimism can affect health and reduce stress, according to the Mayo Clinic.  A positive attitude is that “you approach the unpleasantness in a more positive and productive way.”  One is able to cope better in tense situations when optimistic.  The Mayo Clinic said positive thinking may increase the life span, decrease depression, and give one more resistance to colds.

A New York University study said that the brains of optimistic and pessimistic people light up differently when subjects thought about the future. They are striving to unravel how much is hereditary and much is due to other factors.

Researchers at the University of Penn. are not clear if optimistic people have especially good health because they take better care of themselves or that they have more extensive social contacts which “have been associated with longevity.”

Harvard school of Public Health studied optimism and heart disease.  They concluded that having a positive outlook could reduce heart disease risk by 50%.

Robert Grenfell, director of the Heart Foundation of Australia, said research indicates the link between “psychological well-being” and heart health.  People with social isolation have an increased risk for heart disease.

Different studies were unclear whether it is the pessimism or depression itself that has a negative impact on health, or is it more due to social ramifications such as a lack of a social network. Also it was mentioned that depressed people may not feel like doing preventative health care measures.

Strive to become more of a person who sees the world through rose colored glasses.  It may be beneficial to see a life coach or cognitive therapist, who help give concrete steps to achieve a more optimistic outlook on life. Others dive into self-help books for suggestions.