Individual Optimism and Health

Iris Hobnobs Optimists take proactive steps to protect their physical and mental health as well as focusing on goals that benefit their socioeconomic standing. “The trait of optimism may provide cognitive, coping, and contextual resources that promote better mental health” (Carver, et al. , 2010. P. 880 up. 2). Optimism is a behavioral trait that describes people who look for the positive in a situation. Optimism can help people cope in negative situations and lead to greater well-being.
Optimists ability to cope with negative situations gives them increased opportunity to succeed and live healthier lives, compared to pessimists, because they believe a positive result is more likely. Comparatively, optimists should be measured the same against pessimists on a scale of very pessimistic to very optimistic with the majority of people falling somewhere in the middle (Carver, et al. , 2010). People display varying degrees of capability when confronted with positive and negative situations and tend to react based on their acquired behavior.
Past experiences can affect the espouse of a person to either pessimism or optimism depending on whether the cause was permanent or temporary (Peterson & Salesman, 1984). How a person responds can influence the ultimate outcome of a situation whether it pertains to physical or psychological health. Psychologically, optimists seek a positive outcome in the face of negative causes or conditions that range in influence anywhere from benign to malignant.

A person dealing with a stressful situation There are rare instances in which optimists fall short on their ability to overcome a negative tuition, which are mostly discounted due to the specificity of situations. For example, if a pregnant mother is optimistic about the health of her baby but has a miscarriage despite her positive attitude. A mother’s optimism for her child’s health did not influence the possibility of a miscarriage and left her especially vulnerable because she had not prepared herself to deal with the possible negative outcome.
This situation is uncommon because the prevalence of medical assistance in most industrialized nations supports an optimistic viewpoint for the birth of a healthy child. Past causes that have a persistent negative effect can influence a person to think pessimistically because the stability of negative effects increases the likelihood of a perceived negative outcome. Conversely, temporary negative effects can influence a person to think more optimistically because the negative effects do not have a strong enough correlation with the perceived outcome (Peterson & Salesman, 1984).
The idea that ‘everything will turn out all right in the end’ removes a person’s need to analyze potential negative conditions due to the eventual positive outcome. By not focusing on the potential negative conditions, the level of distress experienced during negative situations is decreased, also fostering continued dispositional optimism. Therefore, optimism is seen as an acquired behavioral trait and coping mechanism and can be taught to pessimists to improve their well-being.
Patients with terminal illnesses may overlook the negative conditions of their illness by emphasizing the positive conditions with dispositional optimism. Researchers have also found that a person with dispositional optimism can positively influence heir physical recovery or management of life-threatening illnesses, such as cancer or HIVE, because the increased capability minimizes the level of distress they experience and allows them to use additional bodily resources toward recovery. The general line of thinking underlying this research is that optimists may be less reactive than pessimists to the stresses of life; the lower physiological stress responses may (over many years) result in less physical wear and tear on the body; the end result may be better physical health and even greater longevity” (Carver, et al. 2010. P. 883 up. 13). Optimists are also less likely to engage in activities that can harm their physical health or develop harmful habits and addictions, such as smoking and drinking.
Engaging in physically harmful activities can be seen as an escape mechanism (Carver, et al. , 2010) in response to conditions or experiences that the person feels are too stressful to cope with or overcome. In moderation, these activities may not have a direct influence on a person’s immediate physical health but can foster behavior that increases the risk of continued harmful activities. Smoking one cigarette can make a person feel more relaxed and may not seriously affect their health, but smoking every day increases the risk of serious health problems with little prospect of physical recovery.
Optimism can foster behavior that benefits a person’s well-being, psychologically and physically. It allows a person to overlook or cope with emotionally stressful situations despite the negative circumstances and see an outcome to which they will ultimately benefit. A person with dispositional optimism also shows a motivation toward goals that improve physical health and a decrease in the level of engagement in activities that might be harmful.
Optimism is a behavioral trait that does not have to be inherited and can be taught to anybody that wish to improve their well-being.

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