Optimism is a key ingredient that helps improve quality of life. Human life is governed not onlyby the life-altering decisions but also by the daily choices an individual makes and an optimisticapproach plays a major role in life’s fulfilment.
As a student in my mid-20s entering into thecorporate world, I strongly feel that an optimistic outlook towards life’s ups and downs will helpachieve happiness and a good balance between work and life over the years.
Recently,considerable research has been carried out to examine the development of optimism across thelifespan.
One of the studies analyses over 1000 Mexican-origin couples between the ages 26-71across 7 years by conducting a Life Orientation Test to measure optimism (Schwaba et al.,2019), while another study analysed little less than 10000 Americans between the ages 51 to 97across 4 years (Chopik et al., 2015) and another analysed a sample of over 20000 British andGerman citizens on household and socio-economic levels respectively (Baird et al.
Studies have also been carried out to measure attributes like life satisfaction and self-esteem thatgreatly influence optimism (Orth & Robins, 2014). With the help of the research, the paperexplores how optimism which is lowest in the 20s steadily increases in people’s 30s and 40s andis at its peak between the ages 50 and 60 and then steadily drops afterwards, thus following aninverted U shape on the optimism-lifespan graph.
Yet, these results do not consider culture,socio-economic background, societal influence which greatly affect an individual’s optimism. Further research can help to improve a sense of optimism among youngsters itself, thusimproving future study results.
Positive psychology, a newly recognized domain of psychology, studies the meaning,purpose and enhancement of life. Since the inception of psychology as a research subject, it hasfocussed on finding everything that is wrong with the mental health of the body. Researchers have categorized particular states of the human mind on the basis of their deviation from the socalled ‘normal’ state of function.
Their focus of research has always been on understandingvarious illnesses or abnormalities associated with the physical and emotional functioning of thebrain and the different techniques of treatment or medications through which these dysfunctionscan be cured.
With the advent of this new field of positive psychology, researchers have turnedtheir focus to study how life could be made worth living. The study of positive psychology does not completely eliminate the consideration ofabnormal psychology but actually works in parallel with it.
It analyses the genuineness ofpositive attributes like optimism and hope concerning the abnormalities and investigates thesource and development of these positive emotions. It also examines positive human feelings likehappiness, satisfaction, well-being, positive thoughts according to age, gender, region, geneticsand background. The pursuit of all these human virtues leads to achieving content in life.
Optimism is one such characteristic that helps human beings interpret the best out of any crucialcircumstances, thus reducing stress and increasing longevity. Today, we live in a world of ever-growing competition, some people compete to growwhile others compete to survive.
Amidst all this competition, we tend to forget the fact that thereason the whole competition started was so that we could achieve eventual happiness andsatisfaction. But as human beings grow more intelligent and adaptive than before, the pace ofgrowth begins to accelerate and the competition never ends.
This gave birth to the concept of2micro-happiness, where people feel happy and satisfied with the small, everyday moments andoccurrences that bring about positive change in their lives, which is strongly driven by optimism. As a millennial studying in this competitive atmosphere, enjoying the little moments ofhappiness at every successful step towards achieving my goals will ensure the well-being ofmyself as well as the people associated with me.
As my journey transitions into the professionalcorporate world and as responsibilities grow, having a positive outlook towards differentsituations and circumstances in life will ensure in achieving a more fulfilled life. While facinglife’s most critical turning points, optimism and faith in my work and efforts have helped mereach where I am today.
Hence I strongly believe that learning more about the differentsubdomains of positive psychology like optimism, happiness, character strengths and virtues,hope, etc. will help me lead my life with satisfaction. Experimental Studies Optimism, like any other human trait, varies according to age.
This has been criticallyinspected through extensive research. One of the studies evaluated a sample of 1169 MexicanAmerican couples between the ages 26-71, 4 times across 7 years with the help of a LifeOrientation Test to assess the age-graded development trajectory of optimism across adulthoodbased on questions related to positive and negative life events (Schwaba et al., 2019).
In order toassess the mean-value path of optimism, a series of quadratic cohort-sequential latent growthcurve models were estimated so as to aggregate the data and measure it across the age groupfactor only and create a best-fitting model after comparing it to three different categories(Schwaba et al., 2019).
It was observed that optimism increases from the age 26 and is at its peakat the age of 55 and then plateaus at that age thus asserting that dispositional optimism isa3dynamic personality trait that increases with age depending on the experience of positive ornegative life events.
A similar study considered a sample of 9790 American respondents between the ages 51and 97 with majority having good college education and health conditions for a period of 4 yearsusing the Life Orientation Test-Revised by asking a series of questions and expecting theiranswers based on an agreement to disagree level scale (Chopik et al., 2015).
After segregatingthe participants into two waves based on health, the responses were measured across three effectsnamely, linear, quadratic and cubic using regression models (Chopik et al., 2015). The findingsrevealed that optimism progressively increased in adults from age 50 to 70 and then decreasedafter the age of 70, showing a peak value at the age of 68 thus raising the question whether it isthe age or the changes in health due to ageing, the main cause of variations in optimism.
Just as optimism varies with age, its outcome like life satisfaction also alters with age. One of the cross-sectional and longitudinal studies assesses life satisfaction with age using threeperspectives, classical, essentialist and socio-emotional on two different categories, a GermanSocio-economic Panel and a British Household Panel with over 20000 participants from eachpanel study (Baird et al., 2010).
Both categories show little to no decline in life satisfaction fromadulthood through middle-age until the mid 70s and then decline steadily after due to increasinghealth problems and loss of social support, but reflect different graphs, one with a steadilyincreasing at first and then dropping while the other remaining constant throughout the middleage and then dropping (Baird et al., 2010).
Although the study assures a decline in lifesatisfaction towards the end of life, it still has ambiguities regarding the changes from adulthoodto middle-age, thus giving more scope to asses parameters influencing age like background,personality and experiences.
Another prime outcome of optimism is self-esteem which tends to change with increasingage. Several longitudinal studies have been carried out, based on large and representativesamples from 1800 to 7000 participants, long study periods ranging from 12 to 29 years, multiplewaves of data and sophisticated modelling techniques like latent-trait state model (Orth&Robins, 2014).
Again the main observation was how self-esteem increased from adolescence tomiddle adulthood, peaked between 50 and 60 years and then acceleratingly decreased, primarilybecause of socio-economic factors, health and experiences (Orth & Robins, 2014).
Mostimportantly, the findings assert that higher self-esteem enables individuals better health,relationship, work opportunities thus improving quality of life.
All kinds of studies reflect one key finding, a common trajectory. The typical review ofthe positive personality quirks of optimism, life satisfaction and self-esteem increasing fromyouth through adulthood, peaking at middle age and then declining towards the end shows aninverted U-shape trajectory (Schwaba et al., 2019).
The peak values have been fluctuatingbetween the ages of 55 and 70 (Schwaba et al., 2019). The main reasons for this gradualinclination of positive values among the youth is the enthusiasm, courage to take upresponsibilities and the constant exposure to new experiences, which chiefly come from growingage.
Younger people look forward to encountering numerous life-changing experiences andmake efforts towards their possibility. Despite facing failures or negative experiences, theenthusiasm arising from the youth, help them stay positive and push their limits.
That is why thestudies that included negative experiences in the survey do not face issues of lower optimismscales due to the participants feeling dejected after encountering negative emotions. Studiesreviewing the youth facing aftermaths of the global economic crises have showed positive resultsowing to their faith in neo-liberalism and hard-work (Franceschelli & Keating, 2018).
The young generation has shown an optimistic attitude towards their future in spite of facing seriousdifficulties and struggles with their belief to overcome obstacles by working diligently(Franceschelli & Keating, 2018). Despite achieving common ground, there are still discussions over what actually inflictsoptimism, whether it is age, health, personality or motivation through experience.
Where most ofthe findings reveal a drop in optimism after middle age, strong reasoning would be thedeteriorating health and motivation at old age. Findings have also confidently stated that,although positive life events encourage optimism, negative life events show similar traits due tothe strong belief and motivation to change the negative circumstances into positive.
Though another important parameter to be considered is the categorization of experiences into anadditional event of neutral condition, where a participant could asses a neutral experience andavoid inflation of either result. Also, although a large sample space helps in reducing the effectof the personality criterion, much research needs to be carried out to eliminate the personalitycriterion from the statistical models to achieve more accurate results to evaluate the effect of age.
Factors such as socio-economic background, societal pressure and region have also shown majoreffects on the results. Further research can help to improve an understanding of optimism, thusopening new avenues and improving future study results. Conclusion It can be effectively evaluated from the various studies and the findings that thedevelopment in age plays a key role in varying the optimism of individuals.
Current research shows an inverted U shape trajectory on the optimism-lifespan graph, increasing from anindividual’s 20s, peaking between 50 and 60 and then rapidly declining after 70s. Along withoptimism, studies also analyse the outcomes of optimism like life satisfaction and self-esteem,6which also show similar trajectories.
It must be noted that, although some studies followed theU-shape trajectory, many others showed a different observation, initially declining and thenshooting upwards (U-shape), while some results showed high optimism among youngsters.
I strongly feel that culture, socio-economic background, societal influence will greatly affect anindividual’s attitude towards life and hence his beliefs and future prospects. The entire paper hasevaluated different studies with the age group of 20 and above.
I believe that extensive researchmust be carried out on children and teenagers to assess their take on optimism. If positiveattributes like optimism, self-esteem, hope and satisfaction are analysed among children andteenagers and with efforts could be imbibed at a very young age, the current condition of loweroptimism levels in growing adults would increase significantly.
Cite this essay
Optimism Is a Strength. (2019, Nov 16). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/optimism-is-a-key-ingredient-that-helps-improve-quality-of-life-human-example-essay