Have you ever noticed how some people seem to have a zest for life while others think that nothing ever goes their way? Who would you rather hang out with? Who would you rather date? Research on optimism vs. pessimism has a clear answer for you.
People who are more optimistic, as compared to more pessimistic, experience a wide variety of health, social, and emotional benefits because of their positive outlooks on life (Aspinwall & Taylor, 1992; Carver & Scheier, 1981; Scheier & Carver, 1985; Taylor, Kemeny, Reed, Bower, & Gruenewald, 2000). In fact, research has shown that people who are more optimistic posses higher levels of physiological well-being (Kivimaki, Vahtera, Elovaini et al., 2005) and are better psychologically adjusted (Carver & Gaines, 1987; Scheier, Carver, & Bridges, 2001) than those who are more pessimistic. Dicke (1998) found that optimisits are even preferred as romantic partners over pessimists by most individuals, regardless of their own level of optimism or pessimism.
In addition to these benefits of being optimistic, there is also a social stigma associated with being more pessimistic (Carver, Kus, & Scheier, 1994; Hewleg-Larson, Sadeghian, & Webb, 2002). Researchers have discovered that pessimistic people are socially rejected because individuals feel that pessimists are hopeless, sad, and depressed (Hewleg-Larson et al., 2002). Research has also revealed that strangers, family, and friends all negatively view people who are unsatisfied with themselves or their lives (Furr & Funder, 1998). Furthermore, if others perceive a stigma (like pessimism) as controllable, individuals holding that stigma are perceived even more negatively than if the stigma they possess is perceived as uncontrollable (Crocker, Major, & Steele, 1998).
Need help becoming more optimistic? Follow these 10 tips below and you could be on your way to enjoying all of the benefits that optimists enjoy everyday.
- Let go of things you cannot control or change. You can only change yourself. You cannot change other people.
- Focus on the positive things in your future and not on your mistakes from the past. The past is the past. Let it go.
- Get inspired by other positive people, especially this guy.
- Simplify your busy life. If you're doing things everyday that you hate; stop doing them.
- Let go of the assumption that the world is against you.
- Appreciate what you have instead of agonizing over what you don't have.
- Let go of things that drain your energy.
- Include a little exercise into your daily routine.
- Keep a one-sentence happiness journal.
- Avoid other negative people. If negative people surround you, try not to let their negativity get you down.
Need more tips? These websites also have some great ideas about being more optimistic and getting happy: