Oh Happy Day! Optimism Is Good for Your Health

Optimism during crisis

Photograph by Deb Lutkevich

During this time of crisis, when normal seems long gone, will those who are optimistic fare better? Will they cope with the change brought on by the pandemic better than their pessimistic cohorts? Does a magic wand sprinkle fairy dust over those who believe, no matter what, that things will work out for the best? Even if that optimism is unfounded in reality? It turns out optimistic folks do better than those who are more pessimistic in their outlook.  

In an article in Psychology Today, July 2016, Utpal Dholakia Ph.D. said, discussing dispositional optimism, or how much folks believe that things will have positive outcomes for their family, support systems, even for the economy and the entire world. “More than five decades of research have found that optimism is a potent health tonic. Optimistic people remain healthier and live longer.” (Dholakia, 2016)  

Dr. Dholakia believes there are four reasons that dispositional optimism leads to healthier people.  

  • Dr. Dholakia says that optimistic people know more about their health conditions and how to improve them. If you know what to do to be healthy and overcome health challenges, you are ahead of the game. Optimistic people are willing to study their conditions and find ways to do what is best. Compliance is high. 
  • Optimistic folks behave in a healthier way than those who are not optimistic. These behaviors lead to feeling better, which then lead to the continued practice of healthy lifestyle choices. They live longer and better than those who aren’t so optimistic. Dr. Dholakia says, “Optimists’ healthier actions lead to more positive health outcomes.” These, in turn, promote healthy activities, producing a virtuous cycle for good health. 
  • Optimistic people have better coping skills. When faced with a setback, they know how to deal with it. They believe that if they follow their time-honored skills, all will be well. 
  • Optimists believe they have better support systems both in and outside their family circle. Because they are usually likable folks, they often do have a larger group of supporters to call upon in times of need. They also believe that their support system will enjoy helping them deal with whatever difficulty they are facing. 

“Choose to be optimistic, it feels better.” – the Dalai Lama 

Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-science-behind-behavior/201607/4-reasons-why-optimistic-outlook-is-good-your-health on April 20, 2020.  

-Written by Peg Johnson

For resources that promote optimism and support uplift, see our Self-Help section and titles like:

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.