I used to think it was as simple as “pessimists see the glass as half empty and optimists see the glass as half full". But I learned that there’s more to it. The following is information taken from Mind Over Medicine, written by Dr. Lissa Rankin.
Pessimism and optimism are different explanatory styles - how people explain the “bad” and “good” events in their lives.
Pessimists perceive bad events in 3 P’s:
1) Permanent- “It’s always going to be this bad.”
2) Pervasive - “This is going to ruin everything.”
3) Personal - “It’s all my fault.”
This leads to hopelessness. It also leads to chronic unhappiness and, eventually, illness.
Good events, on the other hand, pessimists believe they are temporary, specific and outside of their control.
“Optimists perceive bad events to be temporary, specific, and external, while they believe good events are permanent, pervasive and the result of their own internal awesomeness.”
But can a pessimist become an optimist?
The answer is yes…if you make it change. You can become more optimistic. Research shows that the way you explain life’s painful events tends to remain fixed throughout your life, unless you do something about it, such as becoming aware of your automatic, knee-jerk pessimistic beliefs and practicing a new habit of thought. Also, by healing your painful or traumatic childhood that planted the seeds of pessimism in your brain and body in the first place.
Why work on becoming more optimistic? Is it worth the effort?
“Turns out optimistic patients recover better from coronary bypass surgery, enjoy healthier immune systems, and live longer. They fare better when suffering from conditions such as cancer, heart disease, and kidney failure. Optimists also live longer than pessimists. People with a positive outlook are 45 percent less likely to die within a specified period of time from all causes than negative thinkers (and 77 percent less likely to die from heart disease). A positive attitude also affects our ability to ward off infection. In one study, healthy volunteers were interviewed about attitudes and then exposed to common cold and influenza viruses. Those with sunny dispositions were more resilient than those without.
“Other studies examining optimism versus pessimism followed. Harvard psychologist Laura Kubzansk, who studies optimism, tracked 1300 men for 10 years and found that heart disease rates among optimists were half the rates in pessimists. The difference between the two groups was as dramatic as that seen between smokers and nonsmokers.
“As it turns out, pessimists are more susceptible to depression, more likely to experience barriers to professional success, less likely to experience pleasure, more likely to endure challenges in their relationships, and more likely to get sick. Studies show that optimists catch fewer infectious diseases than pessimists, have stronger immune systems and lower blood pressure, live longer, and are less likely to suffer from cardiac disease. In one study, pessimists had twice as many infectious diseases and twice as many doctor visits as optimists.”
I don’t know about you, but becoming a little more optimistic sounds worth it to me!
If you want to be more optimistic so you can be healthier, happier and have less stress, then book a complimentary 30-minute discovery call with me and let’s get started! Book here, now.
Here’s to conquering stress,
The Stress Experts
Sign up to receive inspiration, skills, tools, and tough love right in your inbox each week. Don't worry, we won't share your email address and we're not going to fill up your inbox with junk.