Seeing the glass as half full is more than a tool for taking life’s ups and downs in stride. An optimistic outlook is also good for your health, according to new research.
The new meta-analysis, which examined 15 studies on optimism and health and utilized data from 229,391 individuals, found that a person’s tendency to think positively about the future was linked with a 35% lower risk for heart disease, and a lower risk of death.
But rote directives to “be more optimistic” seem unlikely to shift the worldviews of hardened pessimists.
Instead, Dr. Alan Rozanski, , who is also a cardiologist at Mount Sinai St. Luke’s in New York, thinks a better application of the new optimism research might be to offer pessimism treatment as part of cardiac rehab programs.
People who have recently had heart attacks are eager to live healthier lives and are already making lifestyle changes, like improving their diets and exercising more, explained Rozanski, who has experience working with heart attack patients in such programs.
And while pessimism treatment is a novel idea, Rozanski thinking of mental health as a medical issue “is new.”
More broadly, he thinks pessimism should raise concerns for doctors who might already be screening for more serious mental health conditions, like depression.
While depression itself carries numerous health burdens and complications, Rozanski stressed, “Just like we can treat depression, we can treat [pessimism] at an earlier stage.”