Far from the aloof practitioner of new-age feel-good solutions, viewing dilemmas as opportunities rather than life-crushing problems—in a word, being optimistic—has real benefits. Both your physical and psychological well-being will get a boost from optimistic thinking. “Positive emotions can…undo the effects of a stressful negative experience.” In an experiment that measured participants’ biological metrics while undergoing a challenging and stressful task (publicly delivering a hastily prepared speech), “the researchers found that the most resilient people were also more positive in day-to-day life.”
What’s the Big Idea?
The ways in which we deal with stress has become a popular topic of study for psychologists. Surprisingly, many of the things we thought helped us cope with stress, such as venting our frustrations (having a good yell, abusing a pillow, etc.) are counterproductive. “Far from being delusional or faith-based, having a positive outlook in difficult circumstances is not only an important predictor of resilience—how quickly people recover from adversity—but it is the most important predictor of it. … Actually, doing nothing at all in response to anger was more effective than expressing the anger in these destructive ways.”