Are You an Optimist? 6 Ways To Tell

01/30/2013

 

Thinkstock
Thinkstock
They say that optimism is good for your health--that you'll become the positivity or negativity that you envision. One study, published in the journal Aging, found positive personality traits are tied to longevity. Researchers asked 243 Ashkenazi Jewish adults, between the ages of 95 and 107 to fill out a questionnaire. 

"The results indicated they had two things -- a positive attitude for life, meaning they are optimistic, easygoing, extraverted, laughed more and expressed emotions rather than bottling them up," said Dr. Nil Barzilai, a study co-author and director of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine's Institute for Aging Research to ABC News.

We’d all like to think we’re optimists, but what’s the truth? How can you tell whether you look at the glass as half empty or half full? 

Here are 6 questions to ask yourself:

1. How do you view the past?

Do you look back to the past with disdain or do you feel lucky for your experiences? While instances of negativity may rise to the surface in some memories, it’s the holistic perspective that you should be concerned with when it comes to optimism.

2. How do you feel about the present?

Sometimes it’s as much about how we view our lives as it is about our lives in general. While you may certainly want to make changes in your life, for the most part, do you feel positive day to day? Optimism doesn’t mean that everything is perfect, but that you can find parts of your life to love.

3. How do you imagine the future?

Do you see good things for your future? Are there goals you want to accomplish and do you think that you can accomplish them? If you think that your current unhappiness will translate into a negative future then you’re more of a pessimist than an optimist.

4. When something doesn’t go your way, how do you react?

If you get stuck in traffic are you likely to think “This always happens to me." or "This sucks, I’m going to be late for dinner?" Or is it more like this: “At least I get to listen to this great news story on the radio,” or “I’ll get in some extra time for meditation?” If you chose the last two, you’re an optimist.

Comstock
Comstock

5. How do you view your relationship?

Do you see your relationship with the one you love lasting, or are you just waiting for its demise? Can you imagine life in 20 years with the same person or are you just waiting to find out their issues?

6. How do you act when you meet new people?

Are you just waiting to judge them and find out their faults or are you super excited to add a new friend to your repertoire?

You are the way you view the world and if you always look at a glass as half empty then it will be. Even when it’s tempting to be a downer, try and look at the bright side. If you need help, put a reminder on your bulletin board or refrigerator to be more optimistic. Find the good in what you have, not what you want to have.

 

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Sara Novak writes about health and wellness for Discovery Health. Her work is also regularly featured in Breathe Magazine and on SereneKitchen.com. She has written extensively on food policy, food politics, and food safety.


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