Anti-aging tip: Dispositional optimism leads to a long life.

Anti-aging tip: Dispositional optimists live longer. Here is a characteristic that is fundamental to positive aging and longevity. Many research studies have pin pointed the dispositional optimistic quality as one which you need if you wish to live a long life.

First, let's look at what the researchers say. Doctors Michael Scheier and Charles Carver have developed a widely used test called, Life Orientation Test to measure one's level of optimism or pessimism.

They say that those with an optimistic attitude respond to the following questions differently from other people:

  1. In uncertain times, do you expect the best?
  2. Do you believe that if something can go wrong, it will?
  3. Do you rarely expect things to go your way?

People who are dispositionally optimistic say YES to the first question and NO to the others. Those who are dispositionally pessimistic answer YES to questions 2 and 3.

So, what about you? What were your answers?

Anti-aging tip: Dispositional optimism. Christopher Peterson and Lisa M. Bossio, authors of Health and Optimism , note that optimistic people tend to assume that external circumstances are the causes of things that go wrong; they do not blame themselves when things go wrong.

For Example: An optimistic baseball player who strikes out might say, "He was throwing sliders and I haven't much experience against that sort of pitching. I need to work on it in practice so I can do better next time." Someone who is dispositionally pessimistic might say, "I just stunk out there today." or "I never could hit a slider."

Dispositional optimists have a 'can do' attitude. Most people enjoy being around them and they usually enjoy a strong network of support. (Anti-aging tip: These are things that have positive effects on over-all health.)

Dispositional pessimists are different. Many walk around blaming themselves. "I am a loser. I never do anything right".

Maybe you have met someone like that OR you may have met people with another form of dispositional pessimism - those who view themselves as powerless to make any real changes in their lives or circumstances. They will often tell your their problems but they are not looking for solutions. If you suggest a remedy, they always have a reason why that remedy will not work - nor will the next or the one after that. They feel mired in their situation, powerless to improve anything at all.

Since dispositional pessimists feel there is little they can do to change their life circumstances, they are often stressed and anxious. And they seldom experience a strong network of social support.

Anti-aging tip: But the dispositional optimists tend to go through life feeling good about themselves. They experience more positive moods... are usually happy, excited and interested in life. And they tend to live longer...

Anti-aging tip: Our bodies respond to our habitual outlook on life.

Dispositional style even effects how we interpret decisions we have made in the past.

Consider this scenario:

You need a car but can not afford a new one and you do not want to lease one because there are rumors at work that your division might be transferred out of the area in a few months. After much thought you decide to buy a used car that comes with a 6 month warranty.

Then your company decides not to open its new division across country and so you are not transferred. Nine months later the transmission on the car you bought goes on the blink and has to be replaced.

If you are an Dispositional optimist you will tend to view this sort of thing as a case of "Sometimes the unexpected happens." You will think that you made the best decision at the time given what you knew. Now, you need to figure out which repair shop is most likely to do the best job in the shortest time so you have a car to get to work. And... maybe you can find someone who will guarantee their work".

Someone who is a dispositional pessimist is likely to replay the original decision over and over again ...and think that it was his or her mistake and that is why he or she is facing a big expense now.

If you are a dispositional pessimist you are likely to spend time trying to assign blame for what has happened. YOu might think: "The dealer gypped me. He knew that car was going to have problems." You would be likely to worry about finding a mechanic to do the repair job and you will have difficulty trusting the repair shop - "They are all rip offs. I can not win."

It is as though the dispositional optimists and pessimists live in different worlds. The one is upbeat, forward looking, takes set backs in stride and is always about problem solving to bring things back to normal , good functioning. The other feels that 'forces are against me' or that " there is something wrong with me" and I just do not make good decisions or no one can really be trusted to do a good job.

Again our Anti-aging tip: Recent research shows that these attitudes have serious health consequences and they affect our longevity.

Another Anti-aging tip quality: Self efficacy. T his is another term the researchers use: self-efficacy. People with high Self efficacy can set goals that they find are important and they believe that they can attain those goals by specific behaviors under their control. They believe that they can carry out whatever actions are needed in a given situation. Dispositional Optimists tend to have self-efficacy.

Dispositional pessimists tend NOT to be self efficacious - either because it does not occur to them to set specific goals or because they do not believe that they can reach such goals. So they tend not to act in ways that are to their own benefit.

Positive illusions Now you may be thinking that optimism just does not make sense in the face of catastrophic events or illness. But what is astonishing is that researchers have found just the opposite.

Anti-Aging tip: dispositional optimism with its 'can do attitude' - even when it involves of "not facing the fact that tests results show that a serious illness is getting worse' is still a projector of longevity in the very ill.

Dr. Shelly Taylor, a psychologist at the University of California Los Angeles, came up with the term 'positive illusions'. She had interviewed women with breast cancer. Some of the women had exaggerated views of their control over the disease. They were certain that they had been or were being cured - even though medical tests showed that their cancer was progressing/spreading. And these women lived longer that others in the group who accepted in the inevitable progress of their illness. That was when Taylor coined that term "positive illusions".

In a later study of HIV infected persons, done by Dr. Taylor with some other investigators, they found that such 'positive illusions' led to the patients with positive illusions living 9 months longer than those who 'accepted their condition'. There is additional research and if you are interested in reading it, do check the bibliography for some book titles. But more are more researchers are concluding that 'dispositional optimism has a real positive effect on longevity and 'positive illusions' may offer benefits to those with catastrophic illness but there remains another question.....

Next question for those interested in Longevity the Anti-aging tip about dispositional optimism:

If 'dispositional optimism' has such a positive impact on our longevity, how do acquire it and how can we use it in our everyday lives?

If you find that you are not really a dispositional optimist, but think want to acquire this important trait. Here is a page about Anti-aging tip: How to acquire dispositional optimism

If you are a 'dispositional optimist' already, you are likely to live a long time. You want to be sure that your experiences in your extra years will the best. You'll want to go to the article about "How to grow younger as you age" atAnti-aging tips: Getting younger each year

And to read more about longevity, click on Longevity tips


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