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An optimistic outlook can have positive affects on health

April 2nd, 2009

According to an article in TIME Magazine there may be new incentive to maintain a positive outlook on life. A recent study conducted at the University of Pittsburgh has shown an association between having an optimistic outlook and living longer, in woman.

Participants in the study were asked to fill out a standard questionnaire over the course of eight years. The questions asked helped measure the participant’s optimistic tendencies. People who scored high on the optimistic scale were expected to live longer than those people who scored high on the pessimistic scale.

Not only is an optimistic outlook good for your health, but so are other factors, including exercise, eating right and having a social network that lends support during rough times. 

John Yost, John Carroll University psychology professor, is familiar with the research involving pessimism and optimism. According to Yost, research has shown that optimism has a positive effect on health outcomes. However, research also shows that pessimism is the stronger factor.

“Yes, optimism has a positive effect on health outcomes, but pessimism has a stronger negative effect on health outcomes. For example, pessimism is a significant predictor of mortality in young persons with recurrent cancer,” said Yost.

Lauren Rich, a junior psychology major at JCU, agrees with the article. She feels that if a person has an unhealthy attitude towards life, it can lead to negative consequences.

“For example, when upset, an individual may eat unhealthy Đ eating their feelings Đ sleep less, or become overwhelmed with stress and anxiety.  All these factors, over a prolonged period of time, can lead to obesity, lower self-esteem, high blood pressure, heart disease, depression or other illnesses,” said Rich. 

Rich also said that she believes one’s outlook on life, whether pessimistic or optimistic, can affect his or her overall lifestyle and future.

Having an optimistic view on things will correlate to healthier behaviors and even lifestyle changes, such as eating healthier and exercising more.

“Being optimistic changes your whole outlook on life,” said junior Katy Finucane.

With finals right around the corner, students may feel like taking a more pessimistic outlook. Some students, however, feel optimism is a necessity. Junior Katy Kopp agrees, “It’s very important. If you’re pessimistic, you won’t do well.”