Optimists Live Longer and Have More Success, How to Fake it Until You Make it
Optimism as defined in the dictionary is “a disposition or tendency to look on the more favorable side of events or conditions and to expect the most favorable outcome.” Basically, it’s the idea of looking at a glass half full, rather than half empty and according to The New York Times, optimists tend to be healthier and live longer. It’s not surprising considering they’re more likely to take care of themselves because they enjoy their lives.
It's More Than Being Positive
It’s also no surprise that those that are more positive find life to be equally positive. In the book Breaking Murphy’s Law, by Suzanne C. Segerstrom, a professor of psychology at the University of Kentucky, it’s not just being positive that makes optimism effective, it’s motivation and persistence. It’s the idea that when faced with a problem, optimists enjoy a challenge rather than giving up.
Researchers at San Francisco State University found that the formula for happiness and success was appreciating the past, enjoying the present, and working toward future goals. Rather than dwelling in the past and fearing the future, positive people are constantly working toward life goals making them more successful and as a result, positive. It’s a self fulfilling prophesy.
In Your Genes?
The New York Times reports that optimism is somewhat influenced by genes, especially those that impact the neurotransmitters in the brain, but also by the way in which we’re raised. Parents who build confidence in their kids have the most successful children who believe there is nothing they aren’t capable of in their lives.
Segerstrom talks about the importance of faking it until you make it because emotions follow actions, in other words, find the motivation and persistence first and optimism will follow.
It’s also about learning to push out negative thoughts. Deepak Chopra says “[i]magine that your mind is a radio transmitter, bombarding the field with messages. If you sit quietly and observe your mind, you will see that it is full of mixed signals. The things we want to accomplish we also have doubts about; the person we want to turn into is also someone we aren’t quite sure about."
Recognize these bad thinking habits as they happen and notice when self doubt and pessimism has taken over, keeping you from accomplishing tasks ahead.