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Life Musings

Optimism and outlook on life

They say there’s two outlooks on life.

Glass half-full and glass half-empty. Simplistic? Yes, but who hasn’t tried to simplify nuanced ideas?

Common logic says being a glass half-full person is good, right? Not just logic, research too.

Many studies including one by Carnegie Mellon University gave 193 healthy volunteers (between 18 and 55 years old) a dose of the cold/flu. Not surprisingly, the optimists braved it better than the pessimists.

Over a 30 year period the Mayo Clinic also discovered optimists had their risk of premature death slashed by half.

While Yale University found optimists were likely to live on average 7.5 years longer than their pessimist peers.

For someone interested in improving his own wellbeing and positive thinking this is unsurprising but fascinating.

My outlook on life has improved dramatically over the years. From being a somewhat cynical but not completely pessimistic teenager to believing there are reasons to be cheerful.

It seems these studies would make pessimists even more… well, pessimistic. For us positive thinkers, this is surely a moment to start cartwheeling with delight.

Don’t cartwheel just yet and be careful. Too much positivity can be equally troubling.

“Huh?”

While positivity is good for your health and sanity too much positivity can actually stop you from developing resilience. We all suffer emotional pain at some stage in our lives, unfortunately going through it can actually allow us to grow and develop a thicker skin.

A bit like catching a bad flu except you’re not cough and spluttering with a runny nose when your long-time lover calls time on the relationship.

Bad experience and failure can be great teachers.

Not to mention being overly positive can shield you from unpleasant emotions you need to learn to cope with.

Unrealistic expectations which will eventually lead to greater sadness, bitterness and disappointment.

Plus, among your friends you could become – by accident – a patronising, deluded pain in the a***.

Sometimes I see life as a tightrope – the good times on the other side, failure and disappointment at the bottom. If positive thinking was only required then tightrope walking would be the easiest thing to do.

Only with life’s tightrope, you’re tied to a bungee cord to bounce you back up once you’ve overcome that failure or disappointment.

Like drinking in moderation, keep positivity and pessimism as closely balanced as possible, that’ll help you cope with the world around us.

Ok, you can now start cartwheeling.