The Varied Types of Optimism

optimismIt’s been found that optimists tend to live longer, and be healthier overall than their often unhappy counterparts, the pessimists. However, in the past, many believed that the idealism employed by optimists could hamper their ability to function in the “real world” which may not turn out to work they way idealistic optimists wish to believe it should. Optimists were seen as a uniform group who may ignore actual conditions to look at only the positive. Now, thanks to researcher Sophia Chou, optimists can be sorted into two groups: realists and idealists.

While realism was previously associated with pessimism, and linked with poor well-being scores and often depression, when a realistic view of the world is paired with a tendency to look on the bright side, it leads to greater happiness and success. Realistic optimists tend to choose accuracy, while idealist optimists choose self-enhancement. They look at situations with a more global view, making plan B and plan C in case plan A is not successful, and feel in control of their life and relationships. By acknowledging potential challenges and planning for how to cope with them, realistic optimists can maintain their cheerfulness and look forward to good things in the future even when they experience difficult times in the present. They key is to focus on self-control and the efficacy to exert control over relationships and life choices.

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