As we are heading into the second year of the pandemic, it might seem impossible for some to find optimism through tough times. It is important to stay optimistic but sometimes it is hard to find a reason for remaining optimistic about the future.
How People Remain Optimistic?
Maybe you know someone who is always optimistic and cheerful even during these chaotic times caused by the pandemic. How do they manage to do that? Both optimistic and pessimistic people are exposed to both positive and negative information, but they decide on what they want to focus on. When they decide to focus on the optimistic, they look for more optimistic news, stories and people.
When we are not mindful of people and stories that we are exposed to that might have an impact on us. If we are exposed to negative stories all the time, we might lean more towards dramatic and pessimistic thoughts compared to when we are exposed to positive stories.
How Personality Traits Can Explain an Optimistic Attitude?
Personality plays a major role in explaining our tendencies to look at the world with an optimistic or pessimistic attitude. Optimistic people are not delusional or in denial, they genuinely have hope no matter how crazy it is around them. Sometimes we might look at optimistic people as completely delusional and not in touch with reality. Usually, one pessimist might perceive an optimist like someone who is in denial or who is delusional, but that’s not the case.
Optimists have a personality in line with their positive outlook on the world and genuine hope. This is not in line with someone who is constantly denying the negative things around them. Optimism is a personality trait in itself.
Benefits of Being an Optimist
Interestingly, optimists will usually score higher than pessimists on the quality of their relationships, problem-solving skills and quality of life. More importantly, optimists are on average healthier than pessimists. For example, an optimist will recover from surgery faster than a pessimist. They are also less likely to have a stroke, cardiovascular diseases, they would have lower blood pressure and lower cortisol level (stress hormone). This is all closely related to stress since optimists are less likely to be stressed out. Optimists are less likely to over-eat, smok,e or not find time to exercise.
It’s not a surprise that optimists overall live longer than pessimists. Optimists can cope better with stress.
How to Find Optimism Through Tough Times?
Is it enough to reduce pessimism instead of boosting an optimistic view of the world? Managing stress in the time of a pandemic is strongly related to our ability to avoid looking at the negative side of the future. Also, can we see the light at the end of the tunnel? Both things matter. Avoiding the negative and seeing the positive.
Some might hope for the best while envisioning the worst possible outcome. Hoping for the best is not enough. If you are one of those people reading about COVID-19 all the time and following statistics, it’s time to move onto something else. Instead, read inspirational stories about public servants, local heroes, teachers and first responders.
It’s important to understand the more you can get the level of pessimism down, the more you will be able to promote your physical and mental health.
When we talk about health and a pessimistic or optimistic view of the world it’s hard to find cause and effect relation. Maybe healthier people are by nature less pessimistic. Maybe low pessimism alone won’t predict better health. Other factors play the role too but they can be closely related to each other and often be a part of one’s lifestyle.
Turn your negative thoughts into constructive thoughts that can help you deal with issues. It’s important to stay present and in control of how you feel. You might realize how overwhelmed you are with negative feelings days later without consciously redirecting your thoughts to positive things. Saying now and then that you should be more positive won’t help. You need practices in your life that will move your life in a more positive direction.
The way you go through a pandemic emotionally matters. Lowering pessimism while increasing pessimism will give you longer, happier and more fulfilling life.