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Why Do We Need Hope and Optimism?

Sometimes we can't get past an obstacle or we find ourselves in a difficult situation. We can have a great plan for addressing it, but can't seem to find a way to follow through with that plan. When this happens, it's usually because we're having feelings and thoughts that are getting in our way. That's where hope and optimism come into play.

A hopeful and optimistic frame-of-mind can help us deal with uncomfortable emotions and handle situations that seem insurmountable. A person with a hopeful attitude:

  • Is more adaptable
  • Is less depressed
  • Has a greater sense of personal accomplishment
  • Is less burned out
  • Has a higher feeling of self worth
  • Sees challenges as setbacks, not disasters
  • Is more able to achieve life goals
  • Is more able to adapt to serious illness
  • Is able to tolerate greater pain

Optimism provides us with a great deal of emotional tools to overcome challenges, too. Optimism can:

  • Predict excellence in everything from sports to career success
  • Make you healthier and better equipped to fend off infectious illness and chronic diseases of middle age
  • Make you less likely to be depressed
  • Help you recover quicker from surgery
  • Give you more energy
  • Create peaceful, happier and calmer feelings

One of the most important outcomes of a hopeful and optimistic frame-of-mind is how it can help address pessimism. A pessimistic attitude means we expect bad outcomes and blame them on permanent flaws we see in ourselves. Pessimism takes a toll on our bodies. In fact, a Mayo Clinic study found pessimists to be 19% more likely to die prematurely. When we're pessimistic, we are also:

  • Unhappy
  • Unhealthy (mentally and physically)
  • Less equipped to handle stress
  • More likely to be depressed


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