Children aren’t just our future; they can also be our guides. Research shows there’s much to be gained from imitating their natural optimism. (Remember how it felt to truly believe you could grow up to be a superhero or fairy princess?) Getting in touch with your inner positivity can make you a better worker, help you persevere through hard times and even help you live longer. Grab a half-full mug of coffee and read on.
1. YOU’RE MORE LIKELY TO GET A NEW JOB …
Adopting your child’s unfettered optimism can give you a leg up in your career. According to one positive psychology researcher, optimistic people have an easier time finding a new position—because they tackle the obstacle in their way with the same joie de vivre they do everything else, diving right into the process. It takes pessimists longer to take action, the researcher asserts, and when they do, they’re less enthusiastic, which can hold them back.
2. … AND MAKE A GOOD IMPRESSION ONCE YOU’RE THERE.
Happiness sells, according to a recent study. Their data showed that optimistic salespeople were able to outsell their glass-half-empty counterparts by a whopping 37 percent. No wonder kids ace lemonade stands!
3. YOU BECOME BETTER AT BRAINSTORMING.
There’s a reason kids are adept at crafting elaborate games of make believe—their optimism allows their imaginations to run wild. Science backs this up, showing that positive thinking can get your creative juices flowing. One researcher at a North Carolina university tested this theory by showing different film clips to five groups of people. The first group saw images that were supposed to create feelings of joy; the second, feelings of contentment; the third, neutral feelings; the fourth, images intended to create fear; and the fifth, images that would lead to anger. After the videos were over, all participants were handed a piece of paper with the phrase, “I would like to. . . “ and 20 blank lines. The first two groups—who watched happy films—were able to come up with highest number of responses.
4. YOU REFUSE TO GIVE UP.
Kids often dust themselves off after a fall without breaking stride. Credit their natural optimism. Research shows people who are consistently positive are less likely to break when they encounter tough times—instead they look at setbacks as temporary and changeable. The U.S. military has even implemented a resilience-building program (with instruction on how to look on the bright side and avoid pessimistic thoughts) into their training regimen.
5. YOU CAN SCORE MORE CASH.
Wearing a smile on your face could lead to a happier bank account. A recent study by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission showed that banks are more likely to approve loan applications for people that appear optimistic and enthusiastic. Perhaps that’s why kids score those stray quarters that appear behind Grandpa’s ears.
6. YOU LIVE A HEALTHIER LIFE.
Think like a kid and your body can feel younger, too. Research shows dwelling on life’s negativities can affect your health. A 2015 study found that optimistic people were 76 percent more likely to have health scores in the ideal range—they were shown to have better blood sugar and cholesterol levels and healthier body mass indexes. Overall, positive thinking may lead to a longer, more productive life. A 2012 study of 243 centenarians found that most consider themselves optimists. Translation: more time to get out there and conquer your goals!