Are You Optimistic or Pessimistic?

Take this test to determine if you're a glass half full or glass half empty kind of person.

  1. Do you expect the best or worst outcome?
  2. Does your outlook affect your motivation?
  3. Do you have trust and faith in people?
  4. Do you expect the best?
  5. If something can go wrong for you, will it?
  6. Do good things happen to you?
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The Benefits of being Optimistic

  1. Live longer
  2. A 10 year study on elderly revealed those with a positive outlook not only live longer they're also less likely to require permanent care. Optimist live roughly 8-10 years longer than pessimist.

  3. Beat Cancer
  4. A 1 year follow up in a study on 101 French head and neck cancer patients found that optimistic people were less likely to die.

  5. Better Overall Health
  6. An Australian study on 9501 women found optimistic people had greater overall health. The study used the SF-36 survey which measures overall vitality, mobility, pain and many other factors.

  7. Enjoy more love
  8. A longitudinal study on dating couples found optimist enjoyed more satisfying and longer lasting relationships. It seems optimistic people were more hopeful about the future and were subsequently more constructive during relationship adversity.

  9. Career Success
  10. A longitudinal study on MBA graduates revealed optimist found jobs more easily and were more likely to be promoted.

  11. Less Stress
  12. Numerous studies into the relationship between our outlook and mental health have demonstrated that being optimistic improves our overall well being, stress included.

Can Optimism be learned?

Say you're pessimistic (as most people are) but wish to switch teams and enjoy some of the benefits of being optimistic, is it possible to change your outlook? Just how much of your optimism or pessimism is inherited and based on your genes? A study on 500 pairs of identical twins conducted in 1992 sought to answer this question. Half of the twins were raised together while the other half were raised apart. The study showed 25% heritability of both optimism and pessimism, meaning your disposition to either optimism or pessimism is 25% determined by your genes. So like many other components of our psychology optimism is partly determined by genetics and partly determined by environment, social support as well as our learned behaviors. Martin Seligman a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania believed optimism like many other skills could be learned. To prove his point he taught students a number of optimism techniques and compared the mental health of these students to those without the skills. Students who learned optimism techniques were far less likely to develop depression, anxiety and also enjoyed improved overall health. If you're interested in learning optimism you might want to read Seligman's book, "Learned Optimism"

What is Optimism?

Optimism is the overall view that the world is a great place and that things will turn out ok. The optimist believes (for example) that events will turn out for the best, or that people are trustworthy. Most people are generally optimistic about things that have turned out well for them in the past, or about things that have good associations for them. People can also be optimistic about their internal lives and still pessimistic about external world events.

What is Pessimism?

Pessimism is essentially the direct opposite of optimism in that it is the belief that the world is a bad place and that things will turn out for the worst. You may be pessimistic for example about the prospects of getting a new job, or about your partner forgiving you for an indiscretion.

How we test for Optimism

Our test utilizes the very well researched Life Orientation Test to measure overall optimism and pessimism by evaluating your outlook on the future. To see whether your optimistic or pessimistic your outlook is compared to others that have taken the test. You'll see how your levels of optimism and pessimism compared to people in your age group from your part of the world. To date this is the largest and most accurate online optimism test in the world.

Better to be Optimistic or Pessimistic?

There are often links between our psychology and physiology. Research into the relationship between optimism and our overall well being has shown maintaining a positive outlook is not only better for our minds but also affects our bodies. Sadly the pessimist probably expected this, and so it's a case of thinking it, makes it so. A self fulfilling prophecy of sorts.

Avoid thinking you're one or the other

Optimism and pessimism are two different outlooks on life that dictate how you deal with most situations and your expectations of the world. People tend to label themselves and others as either optimistic or pessimistic but to do so is overly simplistic. Optimism and pessimism can co-exist and vary depending on circumstances. For example you may have an optimistic outlook on life, but feel quite pessimistic about your job. This is why you shouldn't label yourself as either optimistic or pessimistic. Think of optimism as a sliding scale, one end being extremely optimistic and the other being very low on optimism. We all fit somewhere along this sliding scale and it tends to vary for different events in our lives.

The Happy Secret to Better Work