What is pessimism? It is a way that we look at the world around us. Every situation has different points of views. Let’s think about running a race but not finishing first. You trained hard but only one person can win. How will you look at the result? You can say that you did your best and will try again next time. Another view would be that you wouldn’t have won anyhow. The latter is the pessimistic view.

Studies have shown that pessimism has been linked to a decrease in physical functioning, mental problems, pains and chronic illnesses. One study at the Mayo clinic followed patients for thirty years. Those who maintained an optimistic attitude had a lower incidence of medical problems than those who viewed the world in a more pessimistic light.

Pessimism, or a dim view of life, can lead to more than just negative self-fulfilling prophecies. It can lead to depression. Feelings that nothing will go well for you or that you are not worth anyone’s time or attention can lead to depressive thoughts. We all know that depression can lead to physical pain, hostility, poor diet, sleep problems and the like.

This way of thinking can also lead to other health conditions. While optimists tend to be younger, better educated and gainfully employed, they are also in better health because they care for themselves. High blood pressure, weight gain, high cholesterol and smoking are traits of a pessimistic view.

Heart problems are also common in less than optimistic people. Studies have shown a lower risk in those with a brighter view of life. There may be an explanation for this.

People who have a better outlook make better choices in life. Because they believe that they have a right to a fruitful life, they take better care of themselves. They exercise regularly, watch their diet and take preventative measures to ensure their health.

Cynical individuals are less likely to make these choices. According to their thought patterns, it wouldn’t make a difference anyway. So, they may smoke, eat unhealthy foods, live sedentary lives and avoid doctors unless they really need them, which mean a lower rate of preventative care. All of that can lead to heart disease, diabetes, a chance of stroke, obesity and other conditions that adversely affect your health.

But, you can get help. Changing your pessimistic ways may be able to help you increase not only your health but also your life expectancy. Who knew that seeing the glass as half full could save your life? Combat unhealthy habits with a new attitude.