We are currently experiencing technical issues. If you are unable to access your results please call 888 GET LABS

Need Help? (888) GET LABS

Top 6 Benefits of Optimism on Your Well-Being

Medically Approved by Dr. Edward Salko

Table of Contents

A woman and a man are laughing and laughing.

The hype around positive thinking or ‘seeing the glass half full’ is more than just a catchy slogan it’s scientifically justified. Positive thinking affects your overall outlook on life and your attitude towards problems, which in turn affects your health.

Much research has focused on the topic of positivity and the many benefits of staying optimistic. In fact, some findings indicate that personality traits like optimism not only reduce stress but also promote greater overall well-being. Positive thinking and optimism are important for effective stress management and in turn lower the risk of heart disease and boost your immune system

Negative emotions do more damage to the brain than you think. Studies have shown that when confronted with negative thoughts people were less able to concentrate on multiple things. Negative emotions can even consume a person to the extent that they shut themselves off from the outside world, thus limiting their options and available opportunities. They are, in such a scenario, paralyzed by the fear and burden of the impending tasks while unable to accomplish them.

Keeping an optimistic view in life often brings positive effects not just to your mental health but your overall physical wellness as well. While it is often tossed around too much, multiple pieces of scientific evidence actually back this claim. Below, we discuss the true benefits of optimism and the various ways you can adopt a positive outlook in life and toward problems. 

  1. Increased Life Span

A 2019 study published in PNAS underscored that optimistic women are 14.9% more likely to have higher longevity and can reach the age of 85(1), 1.5 times more than their pessimistic counterparts. The research initiative was conducted for 26 years, involving 160,000 women.

Among men, the same study suggests that men with positive attitudes have increased life span by 10.9% and are 1.7 times more likely to reach the age of 85, which is considered exceptional longevity. 

The remarkable data and conclusion can be tied up to the following health benefits of optimism. However, it is essential to note that while optimism sparks the likelihood of longevity, it is not the only factor to consider. It remains a vital ingredient for a full, long life. 

Couple of older bike riders smile Dynamic outdoor shots Joyful nature photo
  1. Low Stress Level 

Another excellent benefit of optimism is that it could impact your stress level. According to a study published in the British Journal of Psychology, people with higher optimism may exhibit lower levels of cortisol(2). Cortisol is a hormone produced by the pancreas and becomes elevated in the blood when you are stressed. 

In addition, cancer patients are said to experience less stress and depression(3) during treatment when they have dispositional optimism. This mindset, in turn, strengthens their resilience and allows them to combat psychological distress.

Pro tip: High cortisol levels in the blood may suggest above-normal stress levels. However, it could also suggest an underlying health condition that requires immediate attention. You can take a cortisol blood test or a urine test to measure cortisol
  1. Lower Rate of Depression

Optimistic individuals tend to have a lower risk of developing depression. Optimism serves as a buffer that prevents overactivity in the region of the brain associated with negative emotions.

People who have adopted a positive outlook in life also reduced their risk of exhibiting significant depressive symptoms(4). They also achieve better satisfaction, allowing them to experience fewer emotional triggers that could lead to depression. 

By extension, optimists are also likely to shun suicidal thoughts compared to pessimists. People with a positive attitude are proven more hopeful of a brighter future despite not seeing any concrete way to achieve it. Conversely, pessimists easily ignore any signs of better outcomes and focus on the worse scenarios. 

People doing yoga together in gym
very happy
Pro tip: For some people, battling the onset of depression is easier said than done. Although optimism helps with its prevention, that’s not to say that other factors can be overshadowed. After all, depression is a clinical condition with psychological and even physical signs
  1. Reduced Risk of Cardiovascular Diseases

Compared to pessimists, people with dispositional optimism have a 35% less chance of developing cardiovascular diseases or CVD(5), like stroke, angina, and non-fatal myocardial infarction. The causal relationship is yet to be established as research is still at its early age.

Nonetheless, a positive outlook in life influences mechanisms that could trigger CVD development–making it one of the most direct optimism benefits to physical health. Stress and depression could be two of these factors. As established earlier, optimists are less likely to be depressed and can manage stress well, which, in turn, protects heart health. 

Close-up doctor holding heart shaped toy
  1. Greater Immunity to Common Diseases

While there is no direct correlation between improved immunity and staying positive, the likelihood of protecting yourself more from diseases, like common colds, seems to increase with optimism. 

Optimists can preserve mental vigor(6), which allows for better responses to infections and diseases. Plus, since it also contributes to stress reduction, people with a positive outlook in life can also reduce their risk of developing stress-induced inflammation.

Pro tip: On top of optimism, you can further protect yourself from infections by understanding how they are contracted, the common symptoms, treatment, and specific preventive measures. Read our guide on everything you need to know about infection prevention.
  1. Better Psychological Well-being

Combining optimism’s ability to help reduce stress and neutralize negative thoughts and emotions, it comes as no surprise that it positively impacts psychological well-being.

Optimists often address setbacks and challenges with a hopeful attitude, looking into the positive aspects of the situation rather than the bad. Practicing this mindset reduces negative thought patterns and rumination.

Additionally, optimism also allows you to feel more motivated, providing a sense of purpose that keeps your mind away from detrimental thoughts. Likewise, optimists are more resilient and can bounce back faster than pessimists.

How to Become More Optimistic

To cultivate optimism, you must be deliberate with your positive thoughts and challenge the negative ones. Visualize the positive outcomes, and don’t jump to the worst results. 

Your ability to become more optimistic can depend on your experience, environment, and other factors that shape your mindset. But whether you find it extra challenging to be positive or not, do the following to invite positivity in your life.

  • Practice daily gratitude

Keep a gratitude journal and write down what you are thankful for. You can do this every day or weekly. You can also choose to have a gratitude buddy– someone you trust–to whom you can have a conversation focused on being thankful.

  • Surround yourself with positive influence

Be selective with the people you hang out with. Make sure they encourage optimism, happiness, satisfaction, and hopefulness. Also, fill your routine with positivity. Listen to a helpful podcast, watch inspirational videos, and read books. 

  • Limit your exposure to negativities 

Dreadful news is inevitable and sometimes necessary for awareness. However, if it is making you feel stressed and anxious, take a break from the sources of such news like social media, television, and so on. Also, if your friends are bringing nothing but dark clouds, limit your time with them until you’re optimistic enough to neutralize their mindset. 

Pessimism is sometimes triggered by having a foggy brain that lacks focus. You can reverse this by practicing mindful meditation, which allows you to be more centered, calm, and relaxed–inviting productive thoughts in the process.

  • Pursue activities you enjoy

Optimism can stem from the fulfillment you experience by doing the things you love. It could be a new hobby you’re trying or revisiting, like hiking, reading, playing musical instruments, cooking, painting, gardening, etc.  

  • Get enough sleep

Sleep impacts your physical and mental health. This means if you’re sleep-deprived, your hormones and neurotransmitters can act all crazy, shifting your mood to the extremes. Make sure to get seven to eight hours of quality sleep every night. If you have trouble sleeping due to anxiety, we have some tips to help you achieve good sleep

  • Eat a healthy diet

Your energy level can also affect your ability to become more positive. That said, ensure a healthy holistic diet complete with nutrient sources. Limit eating junk foods and consume everything in moderation.

The Bottom Line

Positive thoughts and emotions such as joy, contentment, and love, on the other hand, make the mind more receptive to new ideas and broaden one’s sense of possibilities. The benefits of positive thoughts are not short-lived, as an open mind enhances the ability to build skills and acquire resources for later life.


1 Lee, L. O., James, P., Zevon, E. S., Kim, E. S., Spiro, A., Grodstein, F., & Kubzansky, L. D. (2019). Optimism is associated with exceptional longevity in 2 epidemiologic cohorts of men and women. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 116(37), 18357-18362. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1900712116

2 Lai JC, Evans PD, Ng SH, Chong AM, Siu OT, Chan CL, Ho SM, Ho RT, Chan P, Chan CC. Optimism, positive affectivity, and salivary cortisol. Br J Health Psychol. 2005 Nov;10(Pt 4):467-84. doi: 10.1348/135910705X26083. PMID: 16238860.

3 Seiler A and Jenewein J (2019) Resilience in Cancer Patients. Front. Psychiatry 10:208. doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2019.00208

4 Merz J, Schwarzer G, Gerger H. Comparative Efficacy and Acceptability of Pharmacological, Psychotherapeutic, and Combination Treatments in Adults With Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Network Meta-analysis. JAMA Psychiatry. 2019;76(9):904–913. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2019.0951

5 Rozanski A, Bavishi C, Kubzansky LD, Cohen R. Association of Optimism With Cardiovascular Events and All-Cause Mortality: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. JAMA Netw Open. 2019 Sep 4;2(9):e1912200. doi: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.12200. PMID: 31560385; PMCID: PMC6777240.

6 Brydon L, Walker C, Wawrzyniak AJ, Chart H, Steptoe A. Dispositional optimism and stress-induced changes in immunity and negative mood. Brain Behav Immun. 2009 Aug;23(6):810-6. doi: 10.1016/j.bbi.2009.02.018. Epub 2009 Mar 9. PMID: 19272441; PMCID: PMC2715885.

Share this article


Save up to
80% on meds!

We now offer pharmacy discounts through our PersonalabsRx platform.

We now offer pharmacy discounts through our PersonalabsRx platform.

Would you like to sign up for PersonalabsRx?