It’s hard to be optimistic in this world, especially with every horrible thing going on. However, if you can manage to have a positive outlook on life and be able to hope for the best, supposedly, it can help decrease your risk of dying. Huh! Turns out that thinking that the glass is half full is better for you than maybe we previously thought.
In a study that was published on December 7th, 2016 in the the American Journal of Epidemiology, researchers took data that was published back in 1976 and looked at that closely. This data was on women who had been enrolled in an ongoing Nurses’ Health Study. Every two years, the women would go ahead and answer questions about their health.
Along with this data from 2004 was accessed. This data was about 70,000 women (the average age of 70 years) who had answered a questionnaire that took into consideration their personal levels of optimism. On top of this, they also found data from the National Death Index, and talked to the family members of those women who had died between 2004-2012. They looked at the cause of the women’s death as well, and added that as a factor.
The study itself took into consideration five common causes of death. These included infection, strokes, heart disease, repository disease, and cancerous deaths.
Optimism seemed to help reduce the risk of infection more than any other common cause that was considered. Optimistic women were 52% less likely to die from an infection than women who were pessimistic.
So, okay …if this is the case — if optimism really does help decrease a risk of dying — why does it?
That’s a good question. Unfortunately, science isn’t 100% sure. However, a likely reason is that optimistic attitudes are linked to a better immune systems in general. According to some other studies, optimistic people were also more likely to have better cholesterol levels and also had lower levels of inflammation in their bodies.
It would definitely seem that having an optimistic attitude is much better for you in general. Of course, that doesn’t mean to throw away your healthy skepticism; we all need that, too. However, if you’re a little too bitter, or a little too pessimistic when it comes to life and the situations around you, you could be causing yourself more harm than good.
So try to smile a little more, and try to think positively. An optimistic outlook might just save your life.