People with high optimism live 11-15% longer. (Boston University School of Medicine)
Widely reported this week, the Boston team found that those they studied with the highest levels of optimism had a 50–70% greater likelihood of living until their 85th birthday and beyond. The results still held, even when adjusted for the effects of age, educational achievement, persistent diseases, depression, physical activity, diet, use of alcohol, smoking, and visits to the doctor. Brilliant!
Optimism is one of the key measures that we use to drive happiness and performance at work for everyone. I see negativity everywhere and have observed the patterns many times over, both for businesses and individuals.
You – We forget that we can choose positivity, our consciousness can coast, we doubt ourselves, we conform, we get low, we get fed up with being low and we choose positivity to rebound. It just takes so long to get through the cycle!
Business – Challenges arrive, so leaders focus on performance and numbers, budgets are cut (people development is normally first), leaders become more directive, people get more stressed. Medium to long term, the increase in performance slows down, leaders blame the people and processes, restructure the headcount and spend money on process. Leaders leave, new leaders come in and define new company values, invest in the people and blame the culture and past leaders. Investment in people begins, until the next challenge arrives……
It’s the same again and again. The successful people and businesses that we see recognise these cycles and don’t repeat them, instead remaining positive and hopeful. Businesses create a great plan, become leaner in process and spend and invest in their people. Individuals – you – decide to consciously manage their mindset and let go of conformity, choosing the freedom to be themselves and make a difference.
We spend so much of our time at work, let’s use it to be positive, love it and make a difference!
A really interesting fact coming out of the Boston team (when talking about the report to Today.com) is “we know that optimism is about 25% heritable, which means that there is room to modify [it].”
We are not fixed as glass ½ empty and glass ½ full kinds of people, we can condition ourselves to become more of one or the other. It’s in our control and it is our choice! Both as workplaces and as people.
One positive way to improve your optimism at work is to choose how you interpret events. Psychologists suggest that positive thinkers look at problems or disappointments realistically, search for ways that they can improve the situation, try to learn from their experiences, and make the best of things.
Scientists also tell us that optimistic people may be better at regulating their emotions and are therefore more resilient in times of stress. They may also be more likely to be sociable with others and form friendships as they are more positive about others, and this sociability wards off loneliness. So there’s yet another good reason to step back and explore your levels of optimism.
Right now, is ALWAYS a good time to choose to be optimistic. So, whether a business leader or not, use these questions to challenge and improve your use of hope and optimism for success;
- Do you consciously decide to create the relationship you want to have with yourself and the world around you, or does it just happen? Does negativity bite you on the bottom sometimes?
- Do you create a positive and optimistic attitude from the inside, rather than relying on what happens outside of you?
- Do you talk positively to yourself?
- Do you embrace problem solving and challenge as something to learn from and make a difference with or see it as a negative, something you’d rather do without, and so resent it?
- Do you moan? Most people do!
- Do you step back and consciously get perspective for the short, medium and long term and then trust yourself, rather than others or business theories and books, to get it right?
Believe in yourself, believe in the people in your business and choose optimism.