GPS FOR THE SOUL

Optimism Health Benefits: 6 Perks Of Looking On The Bright Side

05/08/2013 08:26 am ET
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Do you see the proverbial glass half empty or glass half full? If you chose the latter, you're not alone -- most people around the world are optimistic about the future, according to a new study.

The research, published in the Journal of Personality, shows that optimism's benefits are seen in both high- and low-income countries, suggesting it's not "just a luxury that exists in wealthy, industrialized nations," study researcher Shane Lopez, of the University of Kansas, said in a statement.

Lopez and colleagues analyzed data from the Gallup World Poll, which includes 150,000 people from 142 countries. Data included responses to questions about life satisfaction, expectations for what the future holds, positive and negative emotions and physical health.

The researchers found that 89 percent of people involved in the poll said they believed their future was going to be good or better than their current situation, and most had a "glass-half-full" mentality.

They also found that individual factors -- like age, income level, education, gender, etc. -- had a smaller-than-expected impact on optimism, and that national factors -- like GDP and life expectancy -- didn't really have an impact on optimism at all.

"The present study provides compelling evidence that optimism is a universal phenomenon and that the associations between optimism and improved psychological functioning are not limited to industrialized nations," researchers wrote in the study.

That's a good thing -- the researchers also found associations between having a positive outlook and improved physical health. And they're hardly the first scientists to pinpoint a link between optimism and wellbeing. Click through for a few more healthy benefits of looking at the bright side.

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