Are you a natural optimist or do you always think about the negatives? Do you find it easy to cope with unexpected disasters or do they completely throw you off track?
While most of us are neither one extreme or the other, you’re likely to find that you identify with an optimistic or pessimistic personality type.
Scroll down to take our fun quiz to find out how optimistic you really are and learn about the health benefits of looking for the bright side in everyday life.
How optimism can improve our physical and mental health
Cheery optimists aren’t just happier – they’re also healthier than their more gloomy pessimistic friends.
A study in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that optimists were less likely to die from cancer, heart disease, strokes, respiratory disease and infection.
Optimists tend to lead healthier lifestyles and have a better social support network than pessimists. They’re also likely to describe news using positive language and believe that the future will be better than today.
Pessimists are likely to blame themselves for mistakes, that the situation is unlikely to improve and think that life is likely to be worse in the future.
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Can optimism be learned?
Look on the bright side, pessimists! You can learn how to be more optimistic and gain all of the benefits that optimists enjoy.
Research shows that we’re not destined to be optimists or pessimists – and we can actually change our outlook and become more positive.
There are lots of ways to build up optimism. Here’s how to become an optimist:
- Challenge your negative thoughts. When you notice a negative thought, challenge it and remind yourself that it’s not really true at all. Read our article on how to challenge negative thoughts and stop beating yourself up.
- Remind yourself of past successes. Write down a list of things you’ve achieved in your life or career, however big or small. Make a note of compliments people have paid you too and when you’re feeling negative, just remind yourself how great you are.
- Ask yourself positive questions. You can change your view of a situation by asking yourself three questions: What is positive or good about this situation? What can I learn from this situation? What opportunities does this situation give me. By asking ourselves questions, we can change our views. You can find more great tips on The Positivity Blog.
- Spend time with optimistic people. Spending time with people who make you feel good about yourself and life in general will improve your self-esteem and give you a more positive outlook.
- Imagine your best possible self. Just a few minutes every day thinking about the person you’d like to be can help to make you more optimistic. A 2011 study found that thinking about your future self for five minutes each day can make you feel more positive, even after just a couple of weeks.
- Focus on solutions, not problems. When faced with a problem, instead of panicking or wondering how you got into this mess, think about how you might be able to fix it or improve the situation in the future.
- Imagine it’s the end of the world. Yes, really. Think about the worst situation that could happen to you as a result of the problem you’re facing, then make it ridiculous and over the top. For example: “If I forget to send that email, I’ll lose my job and then my home, and I’ll be forced live in the woods with a family of squirrels and eat acorns.” You’ll realise that nothing as bad as the crazy scenario you’ve envisaged can possibly happen to you and will feel much better.
Secrets of the world’s happiest people
Scandinavian countries always seem to top the happiness charts. Denmark – the champions of hygge – has led the pack for many years, but Norway jumped to the number one spot on the World Happiness Report in 2017.
The report ranks happiness based on a range of factors including life expectancy, generosity and trust.
One of the main reasons why Scandinavian countries are happy is their outlook on life. Scandinavian people tend to concentrate on the positives in their lives rather than fixing the negatives.
Take our optimist personality test
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