With a new year ahead, it's a good time to remember that it's far better to have a pragmatic, positive outlook than a pessimistic one. And that's not just my take on things, it's backed up by research.
I recently read an interesting article called The Pessimist's Guide to being Optimistic by Jane Meredith Adams. In it, she mentions research which shows that being positive trumps being negative in a number of ways. If you have a few minutes, I recommend reading the article on Prevention.com. Definitely food for thought.
Here are a couple of points that stood out for me.
- Research shows that pessimists tend to die sooner of heart disease and other ailments than optimists. Pessimism has also been linked to a greater chance of developing dementia.
- You don't need to stay a pessimist. With a few small and gradual changes, you can become a more positive person.
It's interesting to note that pessimism is not simply an outlook or attitude; it has real and serious effects on our physical health and wellbeing. But there is good news for pessimists: you don't have to stay stuck in a negative mindset.
In the article, Adams lists a few ways to move from pessimist to optimist. I'm paraphrasing, but these include:
Don't try to be happy
Instead, try to be engaged in something you enjoy. My suggestion? Try physical activities that demand your full attention, like yoga, Pilates or kickboxing. They will distract you from negative thoughts.
Don't give up
Optimists tend to be more persistent, which in turn leads to more success. Definitely a character trait worth developing.
Choose your friends wisely
I think we all know this one – spending time with happy people tends to make us feel happier. From personal experience, I think the opposite is true too. I had a friend that I used to catch up with regularly, but I would always feel a bit down afterwards, even though I tried to change her negative attitude. Eventually, I just decided to cut ties.
I believe that life can be wonderful, but I also believe that you need to keep working at it. People have told me that I'm an optimist but I can assure you that it doesn't always come naturally. I constantly work at it and often have some tough conversations with myself. Thankfully, the positive voice in my head is a little louder than the rest.
A note on depression
While this blog has been about attitude and outlook, I'd like to mention something about depression. I have suffered three bouts of depression in my life and have fortunately found a therapy that works for me. If you are experiencing depression, please seek help from professionals who know how to help. If you need a recommendation, feel free to contact me via reception at Elixr. There is a solution.