Elizabeth Gilbert sums up the quest for happiness in her book Eat, Pray, Love. “People tend to think that happiness is a stroke of luck, something that will descend like fine weather if you’re fortunate,” she writes. “But happiness is the result of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it. You have to participate relentlessly.” Everyone can strive for happiness and optimism, but sometimes it takes work to achieve these goals. Luckily, the health benefits of optimism certainly make your efforts worthwhile.
Health Benefits of Optimism
According to a recent study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, having an optimistic outlook on life can increase your lifespan. The study followed the lives of 121,000 female registered nurses ages 30–55 from 1976 to 2012. The researchers administered a series of questionnaires over the years to evaluate each nurse’s level of optimism. They found that optimistic women reported a lower prevalence of hypertension, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, and depression. Through their findings, they concluded that a higher level of optimism is associated with a lower mortality risk.
Lower Risk of Cardiovascular Issues
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in America (source). One study found that people who are more optimistic are more likely to have intermediate or exceptional cardiovascular health than those who are less optimistic. In another study, scientists from Harvard and Boston University discovered that men who were more pessimistic were more than twice as likely to develop heart disease than the most optimistic men (source).
Improved Immune System Function
Having an optimistic outlook on life may also boost your immune system. Psychological scientists Suzanne Segerstrom of the University of Kentucky and Sandra Sephton of the University of Louisville conducted a study about how law students’ optimism impacted their immune response. Each student in the study received an injection of a material designed to cause an immune response. Segerstrom and Sephton found that students who had a better outlook on the future had a stronger immune response.
Being positive doesn’t necessarily mean blissfully ignoring bad situations, but it means reframing your thoughts and focusing on life’s gifts. So keep working every day to be happy and hopeful, and you can enjoy the health benefits of optimism.
Are you looking for a community that provides a positive atmosphere where you can live out your golden years? The Shores of Lake Phalen is an assisted living community in a quiet, peaceful environment in Maplewood, Minnesota. Surrounded by a gorgeous wooded setting between two lakes, our residence offers the accessibility of apartment-style housing with the atmosphere and elegance of a resort. Thanks to our team of dedicated staff members, residents enjoy a carefree lifestyle, without the common worries of running a household. We offer numerous health and safety amenities, fun events and activities, a friendly and accommodating staff, and so much more. Schedule a tour of the community to explore our spacious apartments, elegant dining room, and more. We look forward to hearing from you!