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Life Mantra
Anu Goel
Looking at the glass as half-full: Optimism 24 December, 2015
Optimism can be defined as a mental attitude that views situations and events as being at their best- that is, a belief that the present moment is in an optimum state. The term 'optimism' traces its origins to the Latin word optimum, meaning "best."

Generally, being optimistic means expecting the best possible outcome from any given situation. In psychology, this tendency is defined as dispositional optimism. Optimism is usually used in contrast with the concept of pessimism- which is its exact opposite.

According to Martin Seligman, who is referred to as the father of positive psychology, optimists tend to perform better in school, at work, and in other extra-curricular activities than pessimists. They have also been found to fare better than predicted on aptitude tests. Significantly, they have better health, and lead longer lives.

Optimism and Health

Many studies have been carried out on optimism in an attempt to explore its connection with mental and physical health, coping and quality of life.

It has been found that vulnerability to mental disorders, especially mood and anxiety disorders among people depends upon their positive or negative expectations regarding the future. Recent studies have revealed an inverse correlation between optimism and depressive symptoms. 

A research was conducted by Van der Veldenand others to study the association between the psychological phenomenon of dispositional optimism and the mood disorder depression, in victims of a natural disaster. The results of this research show that optimists nurtured high hopes for the future and were at lower risk for depressive and anxiety disorders than pessimists- who were found to encounter an impairment of social functioning and lowered quality of life.

Optimism exerts a positive influence on mental and physical well-being of an individual by promoting a healthy lifestyle and increasing behaviours and responses associated with flexibility, better problem-solving capacity and an efficient handling of negative information.

Although there is little literature to corroborate the fact that a relationship does exist between physical health and optimism, whatever has been found indicated a connection that is as crucial as that between optimism and mental health. Many studies have revealed that high levels of optimism lead to a better physical state, whereas pessimism leads to somatic complaints.

So heed your mother the next time she tells you to wipe that frown away and smile, because being happy just got healthier!

The article is jointly authored by Anu Goel (Counselling Psychologist) and Devika Gupta

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
About The Author
Mrs. ANU GOEL is a Counselling Psychologist. She has practiced in Mumbai for 5 years, and is currently practicing in Delhi since the last 7 years. Goel, who can be contacted at 9313320146 and, is a member of the Counsellor's Association of India, and has been a guest speaker on several occasions.
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