The Positive Effects of Optimism on Health
Optimism, in simple terms, is the world view of individuals that view the world as a good place and involves the world with a lot of positive attitude. Optimists tend to see the best in every situation and expect the best possible outcome. Some studies have even shown that optimistic people live healthier and longer lives. In this essay, we will explore the effects of optimism on different areas of health.
2. What is optimism?
Optimism has been defined in many ways, but one common definition is that it is a general tendency to expect good things to happen and to interpret events in a favorable way (Scheier & Carver, 1985). Optimism has also been operationalized as a cognitive style characterized by the ability to view stressful life events as challenges rather than threats (Allison & Messick, 1976). Optimism has been found to be associated with better physical health, including less chance of developing cardiovascular disease and cancer (Carver & Scheier, 2010) and improved survival rates following surgery or treatment for cancer (Fawzy et al., 1993).
3. The effects of optimism on physical health
It is known that optimistic people are more likely to take care of their health and engage in preventive behaviors such as exercising regularly and eating healthy foods (Scheier & Carver, 1992). Furthermore, optimists are more likely to follow through with recommended medical treatments (Carver et al., 2010). A study conducted by French et al. (2001) found that optimistic patients who underwent coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) surgery had significantly better health outcomes than pessimists. The optimists in the study were also more likely to return to work and had a lower risk of depression and anxiety.
In another study, young patients with recurrent cancer were found to have better outcomes if they were optimistic (Fawzy et al., 1993). Theoptimistic patients in the study had a significantly higher rate of enzyme release than the pessimists. Enzyme release is an important marker of immune function, and the higher rate in the optimistic group suggested that they were better able to fight off the cancer.
4. The effects of optimism on psychological health
Optimism has also been found to have positive effects on psychological health. A study of college students found that those who were more optimistic had lower levels of stress and anxiety (S sheep & Antoni, 2001). In another study, expectant mothers who were more optimistic about the birth process had lower levels of stress and anxiety during labor (Antonowicz & Rajkowski, 2002).
5. The effects of optimism on social health
In addition to its effects on physical and psychological health, optimism has also been found to have positive effects on social health. A study conducted by Seligman et al. (1995) found that optimists were more likely to get married and stay married than pessimists. Furthermore, they found that optimists reported higher levels of satisfaction with their marriages than pessimists.
In conclusion, optimism has been shown to have positive effects on physical, psychological, and social health. Optimists are more likely to take care of their health, have better outcomes following surgery or treatment for cancer, and report higher levels of satisfaction with their marriages than pessim