These studies have found that optimistic people experience less distress when faced with potentially life-threatening cancer diagnoses.
For example, Schou and colleagues (2005) found that a superior “fighting spirit” found in optimists predicted substantially better quality of life one year after breast cancer surgery.
Optimism is a trait that should become more common, judging by Winston Churchill's famous quote that "a pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty." Optimism has been proven to improve the immune system, prevent chronic disease, and help people cope with unfortunate news.
Gratitude is associated with optimism and has been determined that grateful people are happier, receive more social support, are less stressed, and are less depressed.
This section will review what is known about the benefits of optimism and evidence suggesting optimism is a learnable skill. Explanatory styles reflect three attributions that a person forms about a recent event.
Imagine two students who receive the same poor grade on an exam. Did it happen because of me (internal) or something or someone else (external)?
Recent research indicates that optimists and pessimists approach problems differently, and their ability to cope successfully with adversity differs as a result.
Watch the Video on Optimism and Gratitude Martin Seligman defines optimism as reacting to problems with a sense of confidence and high personal ability.
The women who endorsed greater levels of pessimism at the baseline assessment were significantly more likely to experience thickening arteries, while optimistic women experienced no such increase in thickness (Matthews, Raikkonen, Sutton-Tyrell, & Kuller, 2004).
Optimism can have an effect on a person’s immune system, as well.