A Guiding Light

Daily routine

Negativity and pessimism engulfs us today. It’s like air we breathe. Starting your day with the newspaper at the breakfast, headlines of murder, war, terrorism, domestic abuse, and automobile accidents vie for your attention. You end your day with the evening news flashing images of death, destruction, recession and crimes on the TV.
All these anxieties add up overtime and kill your optimism. It’s easy to get stuck in the realities of this life, become depressed, and loose sight of the bigger picture. That’s why being optimistic is important more than ever nowadays. Before we proceed we must ask ourselves one important question ” Will being more optimistic prevent bad things to happen to us in our lives ? ” the answer is no but it will help us cope better to rise above it and handle it better. Every life has its ups and downs, but having an optimistic outlook on life has been found to have a significant positive effect on quality of life, such as one’s mental and physical well-being. Optimism is also considered a key component in managing stress , Optimism doesn’t mean ignoring the hard or challenging things in life, but it does mean changing how you approach them. If you’ve always had a pessimistic worldview it can be difficult to re-orient your perspective, but it is possible to highlight the positive in your life with a little patience and mindfulness.

Optimism and Physical health

1: Boosting your immune system

Optimism doesn’t just boost your mood. According to new research, a glass half-full attitude also strengthens the immune system.
The study, which tracked changes in optimism and immune response among first-year law students, found that as students became more optimistic, they showed stronger cell-mediated immunity, the flood of immune cells that respond to an invasion by foreign viruses or bacteria. When optimism dropped, so did cell-mediated immunity.
Being optimistic help boost your immune system’s ability to fight off the common cold.

2: Optimistic people are less likely to have cardiovascular diseases

An April 2012 Harvard School of Public Health study published in Psychological Bulletin concluded that psychological traits such as optimism and positive emotions seemed to protect against cardiovascular disease. The researchers also found that these psychological factors appeared to slow the progression of disease.
In a press release, Julia Boehm, research fellow in the Department of Society, Human Development, and Health at HSPH said:
“The absence of the negative is not the same thing as the presence of the positive. We found that factors such as optimism, life satisfaction, and happiness are associated with reduced risk of CVD regardless of such factors as a person’s age, socioeconomic status, smoking status, or body weight … For example, the most optimistic individuals had an approximately 50 percent reduced risk of experiencing an initial cardiovascular event compared to their less optimistic peers.”

3: Optimism slows the progression of diseases and leads to better recovery

Five studies have also investigated optimism and disease progression in people infected with HIV. Ironson and colleagues (2005) found, in a large sample, that optimism and positive HIV immune response were linearly related: people highest in optimism had the best suppression of viral load and a greater number of helper T cells, both important parts of the progression of HIV.
Optimism also plays a role in the recovery from illness and disease. Multiple studies have investigated the role of optimism in people undergoing treatment for cancer (e.g., Carver et al., 1993; Schou, Ekeberg, & Ruland, 2005). These studies have found that optimistic people experience less distress when faced with potentially life-threatening cancer diagnoses. For example, Schou and colleagues (2005) found that a superior “fighting spirit” found in optimists predicted substantially better quality of life one year after breast cancer surgery.

Optimisim and Psychological heath

1: Optimistic people are less likely to have Depression

High optimism in teens appears particularly helpful in protecting against depression appearing to cut the risk by nearly half compared to low optimism, says researcher George Patton, MD, professor of adolescent health research at the Murdoch Children’s Centre for Adolescent Health in Melbourne, Australia.
His study, following more than 5,000 teens for three years, is published in the journal Pediatrics.
He found optimism in teens most protective against depression but also modestly helpful in protecting again heavy substance use and antisocial behavior.
Overall, however, “optimistic kids do better in avoiding emotional and behavioral problems during their teens, but it in no ways makes them immune to setbacks,” he says. Other skills and experiences matter, too.

2: Optimisim ,Self-esteem and happiness

optimism has been found to correlate positively with life satisfaction and self-esteem, It has been proven that it boosts confidence (Lucas, Diener, & Suh, 1996). Segerstrom and Sephton (2010) also examined whether optimism predicted positive affect. Their hypothesis that changes in optimism would predict changes in positive affect was borne out, as increases in optimism were associated with increased positive affect, and vice versa. Interestingly, changes in optimism were not related to changes in negative affect. Thus, it appears that optimism is uniquely related to positive affect. This means that optimists are generally happier with their lives than pessimists.

3: Optimistic people are less likely to commit suicide

A recent study showing the relationship between suicide and optimisim , Subjects were 284 college students (185 female, 65%), ages 18 and over. Optimism was assessed with the Life Orientation Test–Revised. The outcome measure was the Beck Scale for Suicide Ideation. A hierarchical, multivariate regression was used to test the hypothesis that optimism is inversely associated with suicide ideation, even after controlling for age, gender, depressive symptoms, and hopelessness. The hypothesis was supported. Optimism holds promise as a cognitive characteristic associated with decreased thoughts of suicide in college students. Which make sense because Optimisim gives people hope for a better life that any crisis will
Soon be over.

Different types of Optimisim

There are two types of Optimisim, The first one is Dispositional Optimisim which means believing that something good will happen regardless of the situation and the second one is Explanatory style Optimisim which the person demonstrate explaining reasons for what can be improved no matter how bad the situation is.

Dispositional optimism is a stable personality trait characterized by general positive expectations that influence motivated action. When confronted with obstacles in achieving a desired future state, those who are optimistic anticipate positive outcomes from their actions. According to this self-regulatory model, optimism plays a role in negative feedback loops that guide goal-directed behavior. Consequently, optimistic individuals display a cross-situational tendency to enhance efforts toward their goals instead of disengaging and withdrawing efforts. It is also theorized that optimism is implicated in the propensity to attribute the cause of negative events as external and unstable. This explanatory style then influences future expectancies and behavior.

Optimistic explanatory style: Making sense of bad events

Imagine two students who receive the same poor grade on an exam. The first student thinks, “I’m such a failure! I always do poorly in this subject. I can’t do anything right!” The second student thinks, “This test was difficult! Oh well, it’s just one test in one class. I tend to do well in other subjects” These students are exhibiting two types of what psychologists call “explanatory styles”. Explanatory styles reflect three attributions that a person forms about a recent event. Did it happen because of me (internal) or something or someone else (external)? Will this always happen to me (stable) or can I change what caused it (unstable)? Is this something that affects all aspects of my life (pervasive) or was it a solitary occurrence (limited)? Pessimistic people tend to view problems as internal, unchangeable, and pervasive, whereas optimistic people are the opposite.

A Realistic Approach on how to be Optimistic in our daily life

Based on the research of Martin E. P. Seligman from his book Learned Optimism. Alfred A. Knopf: New York, 1991. 

1: The first step to optimism is to identify the thoughts and beliefs running through your mind after something unpleasant happens. How did you interpret the event? Write out all of your beliefs and read them over. Then separate your feelings from your beliefs, because you won’t be challenging your feelings; what you feel is what you feel.

2: Next, write down all your feelings about the event and how you responded. Do this for a few unpleasant situations, such as an argument with your partner, a work conflict, and getting a parking ticket. You might begin to see a pattern in how you interpret and react to events, and this will help you to become aware of and to change patterns.

3: If you do have pessimistic thoughts, it can help just to be aware that you think that way. Next time your thoughts jump to something like “I never get my way,” “Nothing ever gets any better,” or “People are always mean to me,” try to notice that a pessimistic way of thinking is present for you.

4: The next step is to distract yourself from your pessimistic beliefs or dispute them. Disputing pessimistic beliefs will bring deeper, longer lasting results than distracting will, but distraction can also be effective, and sometimes easier. Disputing pessimistic beliefs involves replacing them with alternative, kinder, and more realistic explanations. For example, if you have an argument with your partner, you might immediately think: “S/he never understands me! I’m always the one who ends up apologizing. This isn’t working out; we should split up” In the heat of an argument, it’s hard to think rationally. But if you step back and think about the situation more realistically, you might find that your thoughts become more positive, and you may even be able to work things out faster. For instance, you might tell yourself, “We just had an argument, and while s/he wasn’t very understanding, neither was I. S/he’s understood me lots of other times, and will probably understand me again once we’ve both cooled off. We’ve always been able to work through our problems before. I know we can again.”

Optimisim in different beliefs

In Christianity Biblical optimism is the result of faith in the character of God. The Bible refers to this as hope Romans 15:13 says, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit ”
Romans 8:28 “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” When we hope in God, we put our trust in His sovereign plan above what our circumstances tell us

In Islam Optimisim is regarded highly and below are three reasons why one should be Optimistic.

1. God offers a futuristic vision:

Throughout the Quran, Allah reminds people about the transient and temporary nature of this life and that the real goal should be fixed on the next life through sound belief and actions. The real success is in the hereafter. Regardless of how easy or difficult your situation is today, it won’t last long.

Through the grand depictions of paradise (Jannah) and hellfire (Jahannam), Allah encourages you to focus on the bigger picture. Moreover, even when Allah describes the unfortunate end of the evil people in the hereafter, He often concludes those passages with the opportunity for believers to repent, to make Tawba, and to change their life so they can achieve salvation in the hereafter.

2. God promises to make a way out:

If you bear the difficulties in life with patience and remain conscious of Allah, He promises a way out for you: “For indeed, with hardship comes ease.” (94:5)

“…And whoever fears Allah – He will make for him a way out. And will provide for him from (ways) where he does not expect. And whoever relies upon Allah – then He is sufficient for him….” (65: 2-3)

3. Optimism is the attitude of a believer (Mumin):

The Prophet, peace be upon him, said, “Strange is the affair of the Mumin (the believer), verily all his affairs are good for him. If something pleasing befalls him he thanks (Allah) and it becomes better for him. And if something harmful befalls him he is patient (Sabir) and it becomes better for him. And this is only for the Mumin.” [Muslim]

Conclusion

Luckily, you can change your thinking patterns over time. Even a pessimist can become an optimist with enough practice! All you need to do is to reframe how you define events. Instead of dwelling on the bad experience, analyze it to figure out what good can come of it. Even if a project at work is deemed a failure, think about what you learned during the process. What strengths did you discover within yourself, Optimism is a skill of emotional intelligence, which translates to a better career and greater success in life. Life is too short to be miserable, so start turning your thinking around! Positive thoughts, an optimistic outlook, and overall happiness can advance your prospects for work, relationships and other life experiences.
Optimisim is like a guiding light through darkness.

References:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-athletes-way/201501/optimism-is-good-your-heart
http://www.soundvision.com/article/optimism-why-positive-thinking-matters
http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/wellness_articles.asp?id=835&page=2
http://www.pursuit-of-happiness.org/science-of-happiness/positive-thinking/
http://m.wikihow.com/Be-Optimistic
http://www.livescience.com/8158-optimism-boosts-immune-system.html
http://www.webmd.com/parenting/news/20110110/optimism-may-protect-teens-against-depression
http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13811110701249988
http://link.springer.com/referenceworkentry/10.1007%2F978-1-4419-1005-9_1222
http://kalimunro.com/wp/articles-info/emotions-and-feelings/optimism-how-to-avoid-negative-thinking

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