Worth a Look: Optimism 2.0

Cultural Intelligence
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How an optimistic outlook can help improve your state of health, not just your state of mind.

Mary Desmond Pinkowish | September 2010 issue

Admit it. Secretly you think optimistic people are just a little annoying—their constant, insufferable smiling; the way they’re always looking on the “bright side” and reciting cheerful aphorisms. When you encounter an optimist, uncharitable words like “sap” and “chump” may pop into your head. And when optimists veer off into wishful thinking, and the ridiculous state called “blind optimism,” you suspect they are downright delusional, even dangerous. Is optimism really a characteristic we want to instill in ourselves and our kids?

Actually, yes. Optimism can protect against depression and anxiety disorders and promote emotional resilience. Optimists are physically healthier than pessimists, and they recover faster from conditions like heart disease. Optimism can help us cope more effectively with stress, and affects the immune system in ways that are largely beneficial. Plus, most people prefer the company of optimists. Compared to pessimists, they have more friends and are more likely to have wide social networks, which confer additional health benefits.

Tip of the Hat to Sterling Seagrave at Facebook.