Are you an Optimist or a Pessimist?
We have all heard of the half empty or half full glass. It would be interesting to take a survey and see how many of my readers immediately thought it was half empty rather than half full.
How we view this says a great deal about ourselves. In fact, as health conscious as we are, our thoughts on this glass may be affecting our physical beings.
A quote from the Oxford English Dictionary:
“Optimism is having hopefulness and confidence about the future or successful outcome of something; a tendency to take a favorable or hopeful view.”
The word “optimism” comes from a Latin word meaning “best”. One would say then that we expect the best. This may be hard to do when we have bad news, the Stock Market plunges, wars rage; our job seems unstable, or our relationships with others could be a great deal better.
How often we say we “hope for the best“; want to look or be our best; the best is yet to come etc. Does this make us an optimist?
Researchers evaluate optimism in terms of the way one explains life events. They give tests that try to define explanatory style. Some have decided that it may be hereditary or have some biological trait having to do with intelligence and temperament. In that case, are we locked into being either a pessimist or an optimist? Maybe not.
Many people come from dis-functional families or have horrific accidents that leave them in conditions that would make most of us permanently depressed and yet through faith and outlook, one can see a silver lining. HOPE is always there. As a Christian, I put my trust in the One Who gives me HOPE in life’s events, but it does not always make my personality a really optimistic one. For some of us, it is a struggle. We see life through realistic eyes, but we forget that only God knows what is truly around the corner. There are many elements and combinations of situations that we do not see. Here is where faith and optimism go hand in hand.
The hereditary theory may be debatable for environmental factors may also play a part in our outlook. Regardless, sometimes it is a matter of the will. What about the idea that our way of looking at things can be a health factor? Here are some thoughts to ponder concerning your mental attitude and your aptitude for disease.
- Optimist most often live healthier lifestyles
- They smoke less; more physically active; consume more fruits, vegetables and whole grains. (Think about that list when you are grocery shopping.)
- Optimist consumes more moderate amounts of alcohol.
- They have better coping abilities when it comes to pain due to certain physical problems
- They have less stress or distress than pessimists.
- Optimists tend to face the problems head-on, taking active steps to solve problems…whereas pessimists tend to abandon their goals leading to types of depression
Our physical and mental health are important. Our tendencies are who we are. Nothing says that we can not change if it makes life better for us…even if it takes work. Perhaps it is time to take a reflective moment to decide what type of person we want to be.
Winston Churchill said this: “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”