Optimism and your health


How positive and cheerful are you?

Did you know that your outlook, whether it is optimistic or pessimistic, influences your enjoyment of life, your relationships and your health?

People are just naturally drawn to someone who exudes jovial good humor. Individuals who only see the darkness in life may become isolated and lonely. A good support system, people with whom we can share our thoughts and emotions are indispensable if we desire to be happy and healthy. Numerous studies have suggested that an adequate support system is imperative when one is overcoming trauma. Do you know any officers who have not been exposed to trauma?

A study in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings reports the following benefits from positive thinking. Besides a lowered risk of early death, researchers found other health benefits related to positive attitude. In the study, optimists reported:

  • Fewer problems with work or other daily activities because of physical or emotional health
  • Less pain and fewer limitations due to pain
  • Less interference from physical or emotional problems when engaging in social activities
  • Feeling more peaceful, happier and calmer
  • Increased energy
Optimism is more than sanguinity…it may be your most effective medicine.

How optimistic are you?
Evaluate yourself with the scores:
1. Strongly disagree
2. Disagree
3. Don't know
4. Agree
5. Strongly agree


Circle or mark the number that most closely represents you answer.

Optimism

1. I can scarcely wait to see what will happen next in my life.
1   2   3   4   5  

2. I am energized when the phone rings, wondering what adventure waits on the other end.
1   2   3   4   5  

3. Blue? Why would I want to waste time feeling blue?
1   2   3   4   5  

4. I have found that most people are trustworthy.
1   2   3   4   5  

5. My glass is usually half full.
1   2   3   4   5  

6. I expect great things to happen in my life.
1   2   3   4   5  

7. If one expects good things to happen, they are usually right.
1   2   3   4   5  

8. I like most people.
1   2   3   4   5  

9. I feel that I am achieving my goals.
1   2   3   4   5  

10. I am close to three or more people.
1   2   3   4   5  

11. I am capable of solving my problems.
1   2   3   4   5  

12. People seem to like me.
1   2   3   4   5  

13. I have one or more hobbies that I enjoy.
1   2   3   4   5  

14. My friends are there for me when I need them.
1   2   3   4   5  

15. Though no job is perfect, I enjoy my career.
1   2   3   4   5  


Add up your scores for each question.

50 - 75
You are practically Pollyanna. Life is an exciting adventure filled with possibilities. Optimism is often a self-fulfilling prophecy so you may in fact have better "luck" than others. You have a zest for life that is contagious. People are drawn by your cheerfulness and leave your company feeling more optimistic.

25 - 49
You are on the fence, not optimistic, but not weighted down by dark fears and predictions. If you would like to raise your score, spend more time with upbeat people. Read books and watch movies that make you feel good about yourself and your fellow travelers in this great adventure we call LIFE. Focus on the joys you encounter and your score will go through the roof. Be aware of your negative thoughts, they too are self-fulfilling.

1 - 24
You are feeling melancholy, aren't you? Try looking for and taking note of joyful experiences. Follow the suggestions above and if you don't feel considerably more hopeful for the future, consider consulting a mental health professional. You deserve to enjoy your life.

About the author

PoliceOne columnist Dr. Dorothy McCoy has been in private practice as a clinical counselor for 10 years. She is a diplomate with the American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress and a law enforcement consultant. She is a Licensed Professional Counselor (in North and South Carolina).

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