My Word of the month – Optimism – By T. Duenkel

Sep 30 2021

My Word of the month – Optimism – By T. Duenkel

Optimism is an attitude reflecting a belief or hope that the outcome of some specific endeavour, or outcomes in general, will be positive, favorable, and desirable. Optimistic people are hopeful of a bright future; they believe things will work out for the better. Optimistic people are healthier, live longer, fight illness better, less stressed, form better relationships, enjoy working,

 

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​For over twenty months, the pandemic has caused many of us to live in one of the most worrying times of our lives. Social Media, radio, and tv news stations are full of negative stories and depressing thoughts. 

When so much of our day is filled with negative soundbites, it is easy to take the good for granted and focus only on the bad. Life can be hard, but it is not all doom and gloom; there are just as many positives, but sometimes, we have to look a little harder to find them. 

 

Away from Chikopi, another way for us to step up and be a Chikopi Man is to be a Global Citizen - we can all play our part to put others first and help them to feel better. 

One of my favourite examples of a Global Citizen- a person who is aware of and understands the wider world – and their place in it, who takes an active role in their community and works with others to make our planet more peaceful, sustainable and fairer- is Captain Sir Tom Moore from Bedfordshire, England.  

On 6th April 2020, during the first lockdown in England, Captain Tom pledged to walk 100 laps of his garden to mark his 100th Birthday later that month and raise £1,000 for the NHS (National Health Service). At the time of writing, £150 million has been raised – a remarkable achievement. A Spitfire, the symbol of freedom in the UK, was organized to fly over his home on Thursday, 30th April 2020. It saluted Captain Moore's fundraising, celebrated his Birthday, and boosted everyone's morale. As a Burma and WWII veteran, it was a significant icon for Captain Tom. 

During the 24 days leading up to his 100th Birthday, Captain Tom was interviewed several times and became a household name in the UK. He received many awards, topped the UK charts, became the oldest person ever to achieve a #1 hit, earning him two spots in the Guinness Book of World Records. On 17th July 2020, he was personally Knighted by Queen Elizabeth II. Captain Sir Tom Moore was from an exceptional generation that is inspirational to us all.

Having a cheery disposition, as Captain Moore had, can influence more than just your own mood. As President Ronald Reagan said in 1985," the glass is not half-empty, it is half full." 

Research shows that optimistic people are more determined to reach their goals, have more success achieving their goals, are happier with their lives, and have better mental and physical health when compared to more pessimistic people.

Optimistic people have typically been so since birth; it is part of their nature. For those who were not as blessed, the trick is to act like an optimistic person, even when not feeling particularly hopeful. When we think the future will be positive, we will focus more and put in time and effort to make it so. Being engaged and determined even when we don't feel particularly positive, the profits of optimism, satisfaction, and health will soon follow.

 

Below are ten reasons why improving optimism will benefit us:

1. Optimists feel healthier

 A study of 150,000 people living in 142 countries showed those who see the world as inherently good and that life will work out in their favour are more likely to rate their health and well-being as better.

2. Optimists have better health

A Harvard School of Public Health study discovered that people who look on the bright side have fewer medical issues, less cardiovascular disease, and better cholesterol readings. They also surveyed 1,000 middle-aged men and women; those with the lowest levels of triglycerides reported the highest levels of optimism.

3. Optimists live longer

 If we expect to live to old age, we increase our chances of doing so. University of Pittsburgh researchers followed the health and hope of nearly 100,000 women; they found that over an eight-year period, optimists were less likely to die from all causes than pessimists.

4. Optimists are better at fighting illness

 Researchers studied the connection between optimism and immune response in first-year law students throughout the school year. Students fought off infection more successfully when they were optimistic compared to the times when they were less hopeful.

5. Optimists experience less stress

 A study at Quebec's Concordia University found that optimists do not worry about the little things. The study shows optimists produce less cortisol during times of stress, and they do not experience as much perceived stress during stressful times.

6. Optimists form better relationships

 University of Oregon researchers found that romantic relationships are helped when one or both partners are optimistic with a positive disposition.  

7. Optimists enjoy working more

 A study from Kuwait University found that workers who see the glass as half full rate their job more satisfying with fewer work complaints than those who don't. 

8. Optimists receive better job offers and more promotions

 Duke University followed a group of MBA graduates when they entered the workforce. The optimistic graduates found employment sooner, were happier with their job, earned a higher starting salary, and were promoted earlier than the less hopeful, pessimistic graduates.  

9. Optimists adapt better

Famous quote by Epictetus, "It's not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters." A study from Australia showed that the majority of successful first-year university students had been more optimistic about the transition to university life; they experienced less stress, anxiety, and uncertainty.  

10. Optimists Make Better Athletes

As a rule, optimists do not have more muscle mass or superior athletic skills than pessimists. A study co-authored by Martin Seligman, Ph.D., director of the Penn Positive Psychology Centre at the University of Pennsylvania, showed the major difference they have is hope. In the study, a group of swimmers was given a false, slower time after a hard swim. The optimists applied the negative result to fire themselves up and swim faster on the next swim; the pessimists swam even slower than before.

 

The above ten points help us see that being an optimist, either by choice or by DNA, is better for our health, our well-being, our career, our life choices, and our general demeanour as we journey through life.

 

As the Assistant Director of Camp Chikopi I do not think I could perform my duties well unless I was an optimist!

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