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The moment you speak of psychology, in which subject, by the way, I have a deep interest, people will say, “Yeah, we know, the glass half full or half empty stuff!” We often speak of friends and relatives being either optimists or pessimists. Over time optimists have been described as being people who see the positive side of things, people and situations. They are the ones likely to see the glass being half full.

On the other hand, pessimists are those who fear the worst in most situations. They tend to believe that what will go wrong will go wrong and there’s not much they can do to alter their circumstances. However, no one is fully optimistic or fully pessimistic. To find out where you figure in this spectrum, why don’t you check out the Happiness Test in Psychology Today?

The answers may be interesting, if not reveal more about you than you may care to accept. Speaking for myself, I have always tried to be optimistic. Years ago, as a child I read these lines which had a great impact on me, “I cried when I had no shoes until i saw a man who had no feet.” This taught me to count my blessings and to be grateful for what I had rather than to hanker for what I did not or perhaps could not hope to achieve.

It is tempting to compare yourself with those who are better off than you but spare a thought for the many more who are worse off. This kind of thinking makes a big difference to the way you see problems and people.

This report in Science Daily speaks of researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign establishing that optimistic people have healthier hearts after surveying over 5,000 people. “Individuals with the highest levels of optimism have twice the odds of being in ideal cardiovascular health compared to their more pessimistic counterparts,” said lead author Rosalba Hernandez, a professor of social work at the University of Illinois.

So there you have it. It pays to be optimistic!

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