Optimist or Pessimist? Optimists Do Better When Diagnosed with a Life-Altering Health Diagnosis

We all know the question about do you see the glass as half-empty or half-full. Based on that answer we’ll be categorized as an optimist or a pessimist. It may not have a lot of bearing on your day-to-day life until the day you’re told your health is in jeopardy. When you receive your diagnosis knowing which side of the fence you fall on can be a benefit if you’re an optimist or an obstacle if you’re a pessimist.

Optimists and Quality of Life

It’s clear why the research overwhelming shows that optimists fair better when facing a health challenge; they don’t sit on the pity pot waiting to be saved. Overall, optimists aren’t out of touch with reality believing nothing bad will happen to them or that they will beat out death, but how they handle their illness improved their quality of life and that has substantial impact on your immune system.

Optimists refuse to give up. These are the clients that when regular treatment regimens didn’t yield favorable results began searching for clinical trials. Their belief that there is always one more step to take toward wellness reinforces their feeling of control over their lives. It’s also a hopeful stance and that helps alleviate anxiety.

Another characteristic of optimists is their belief in themselves and their abilities. Optimists are often more resourceful. They create success strategies that provide them with a sense of mastery over their illness. They refuse to accept the limits of their illness. Look at someone like Montel Williams. Montel was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis years ago and he found medical and natural therapies to keep himself strong mentally and physically. This allowed him to continue doing the work he loved and do it with limited interference.

Leave Your Worries at the Door

If you’re not an optimist by nature you’re in luck because it’s something you can learn. It’s one of the reasons that support groups have been so helpful to people with health challenges. When those facing the same illness sit, share and come up with solutions the room is filled with hope. Even when someone backslides or dies, the group energy moves forward and the idea that you can survive even when others don’t is what keeps you moving on your path to wellness.

This is one of the times when an objective third party may be helpful. Going to meet with someone who isn’t emotionally involved in your daily life can offer you the challenge you need to shift from being a pessimist to an optimist. We all have times when our thoughts are irrational. Having someone hold up a mirror to that irrationality can be the wake-up call you need to make the shift to optimism.

Celebrating your treatment successes is another great way to make the big shift. Whether you’re finishing a course of treatment, gaining weight (intentionally), your lab results are better; all of these are boosts on the optimism scale. Don’t let the negative self-talk by the committee in your head rob you of the joy.

Being an optimist is good for your health. The research shows overwhelmingly, that optimists have an easier time in treatment, enjoy their lives more and have greater longevity. It’s in your best interest to make the shift from pessimist to optimist. It’s not an overnight change, but a gradual one and you’ll find that life with a health challenge gets a little easier every day.