Optimism is a trait and a feeling that one develops whilst experiencing various challenging situations in day-to-day life. Optimism is derived from the Latin word ‘optim’ which means the best. Optimism can be defined as hoping for the best in every situation rather than constantly looking for undesirable outcomes.
A cognitive construct, optimism is related to motivation. When people are optimistic, they put in more effort as compared to pessimists who disengage. It incorporates a belief that the future is good even though the present situation is stressful.
‘Quality of life,’ this term first originated in the United States after the second world war. Quality of life, at that time, meant having a good life which is to say being affluent, having a car, a well-furnished home and having high consumer goods. With the growing and fast-paced world, the meaning of quality of life has been replaced and now has a broader sense of meaning which is to say one has a good quality of life when the person is satisfied, has realization of his or her needs and aspirations, and is able to cope with the environment. From a “have” category it is restored to “be” category.
Optimism plays a great role in having an exceptional quality of life. It encourages one to be motivated even in the face of adversity indirectly leading to a better quality of life.
Here are some ways optimism improves the quality of life:
1. Optimism and Self-regulation
A general approach to define self-regulation as a concept rests on optimism that assumes life’s concerns are to accomplish goals. Efforts continue when a person is confident about an event and receives success. On the contrary, he may disengage upon facing failure. This disengagement causes psychological distress upon not accomplishing a goal. Studies have found that optimists are more capable, persistent, and are better at balancing multiple goals. They also display a great sense of engagement in treatment plans right from medications to therapy. Hence, optimism helps the person or rather, optimists choose to engage and invest wisely in self-regulatory resources.
2. Optimism and Relationships
Optimists tend to work harder in relationships. They are consistent in maintaining them. When faced with adversities and hardship in relationships, they find constructive ways to solve problems. Besides intimate relationships, they have stronger social support than pessimists. A study found that optimistic people are more resilient, which reduces their chances of being lonely later in life. Optimism enhances the interpersonal relationships hence, people achieve greater relationship satisfaction which is key to lead a better quality of life.
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3. Optimism and Mental Framework
An optimistic person is able to generate a more vivid mental image about future events in a positive manner than a pessimist. Those who are optimistic have reverberations in the present, they are more responsive to treatments or welcome to suggestions about their pain.
All in all if the person hits a low in life, they may not develop feelings or symptoms related to depression. Optimism lessens the magnitude of thoughts associated with suicidal ideations.
4. Optimism and Health
Research has found that a person who is hopeful about the future is less likely to develop coronary heart diseases and have protection against stroke and artery blockage. It also reduces inflammation, improves antioxidant levels, and lipid profiles, and when under stress, it reduces the levels of cortisol.
Optimists have a good health profile because they are motivated enough to exercise everyday, smoke less, and have healthy diets – basically, they are proactive. Secondly, they display a better profile of emotional response upon facing adversity which contributes to better health.
The bottom line is, optimism facilitates a good quality of life as it is a required trait in each of the dimensions mentioned above. It improves cognition, motivates and helps in engaging in various situations effectively. Thus, one should be mindful and practice being optimistic to achieve a good quality of life.
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