Optimism & Women

Optimism & Women

Honor Whitman wrote an interesting article on women and how optimism might boost their longevity.  I thought this was an interesting view and so, so true. How many people look at the glass as half empty rather than half full?  This, in some instances, could be a matter of life or death for some women. The research suggests that women who have a positive outlook on life are less likely to die prematurely than those who are less optimistic.

Eric Kim, co-lead author of the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, MA, and colleagues, say that their findings suggest people should look at boosting their optimism as a way to improve their overall health.  Their findings were recently published in the American Journal of Epidemiology.  

The definition of optimism is a mental attitude characterized by positive thinking, whereby a person is hopeful and confident that good things will happen.  There are studies that suggest people who are optimistic tend to have better mental and physical health than those who are pessimistic. A negative outlook on life and always expecting the worst, seems to generate the worst.

The University of Illinois conducted research last year and found that optimists were twice as likely to have better heart health than their pessimistic counterparts.  For the study they set out to investigate if having a positive outlook on life might influence the risk of death from various medical conditions. Most medical and public health efforts focus on reducing risk factors for diseases, and evidence has been mounting that enhancing psychological resilience might also make a different.  The findings are suggesting that we should make efforts to boost optimism, which is shown to be associated with healthier behaviors and healthier ways of coping with life challenges.

I have personally seen optimism make life easier for a friend when fighting for her life with pancreatic cancer.  She always looked at the positive side and I am convinced this is what extended her life.

Dr Fredda Branyon