13 Things You Should Know About Optimism

Being an optimist is easier said than done, but the emotional and physical rewards are substantial. Here are 13 things you need to know about optimism.

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1. Looking on the sunny side is good for your heart

Did you know that positive thinking is good for your health? A 2015 study conducted in the United States found that optimistic people were twice as likely to have strong cardiovascular health because they had lower levels of stress hormones, exercised more and were less likely to smoke.

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2. Optimism can boost your immunity

According to a 2010 University of Kentucky study that monitored the link between the immune systems of first-year law students and their hopeful approach to their studies, positive expectations for the future can help strengthen immunity.

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3. Count your blessings

Emiliana Simon-Thomas of the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley says that remembering what you’re grateful for will boost cheerful emotions. She suggests maintaining positive thinking by starting a gratitude journal.

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4. Having close relationships is essential

When it comes to positive thinking, our sense of community is more important than our material possessions or even our career status, explains Simon-Thomas. “Having close relationships and interacting with people are terrific sources of happiness,” she says.

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5. Being in the moment makes you happier

Research suggests that people who stay in the moment feel happier than those who spend too much time fantasizing about things they’ll experience in the future-like a tropical vacation. Find your mind wandering? Simon-Thomas recommends practicing mindfulness: home in on your surroundings and the sensations your body feels.

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6. Athletic people are natural optimists

Research shows that athletic people are much more optimistic than their sedentary counterparts. Half an hour to an hour of brisk walking or jogging several times a week should do the trick.

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7. Solid sleep can make you upbeat

A 2013 study published in the International Journal of Behavioral Medicine found that adults who got seven to eight hours of shut-eye per night scored higher on tests for optimism and self-esteem than those who snoozed for fewer than six hours or more than nine.

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8. Happy thinking has its limits

Extreme optimists are less likely to save money or pay off credit card debt. This may be because they tend to worry less about their economic situations deteriorating in the future.

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9. Optimism needs pessimism, too

Barbara Fredrickson, a professor in the department of psychology and neuroscience at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, suggests viewing positivity and negativity like a sailboat, where negative emotions are the keel, balancing the boat, and cheerfulness is the mast, holding up the sail and driving the vessel forward. The goal isn’t to eliminate gloomy feelings- the boat would capsize-but to balance them with cheery ones.

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10. Combine your sunny outlook with pragmatism

Try to find that equilibrium-if you catch yourself getting lost in the clouds, consult statistics and set modest, reachable goals.

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11. Bring your positivity to work

When the chips are down at the office, a buoyant disposition can help you stay energetic, dedicated and invested in your responsibilities.

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12. Counter stressful moments with calming ones

Despairing over a missed deadline? Watch a silly cat video before getting back to work. It’ll help you remain hopeful on the job.

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13. Pay it forward

Positive thinking can prepare young people for school and the workforce-optimistic first-year university students are less lonely, have more self-esteem and are better able to set goals than their pessimistic peers. To build upbeat outlooks, encourage kids to establish a network of mentors and supporters that make them feel connected and confident.

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