In brief: Believe good things can - and will - happen

In brief

Believe good things can — and will — happen

The 2004 baseball season brightened the outlook of many fatalistic New England residents. We received one e-mail from a Red Sox fan that captured the collective consciousness in these parts in late October: "We suffer no more. Free at last. Everything is different. The trees, the leaves. I've never seen such vibrant colors before..."

Red Sox fans may stay healthier and live longer if they hang on to this positive outlook. Researchers have developed standardized tests to gauge optimism; the Life Orientation Test (LOT) is one of them. Results from studies using these tests show that people who see the glass as half-full tend to cope better and have better health habits.

It seems that they may live longer, too. In a study published in the November 2004 Archives of General Psychiatry, Dutch investigators followed 1,000 people between the ages of 65 and 85 for nine years. The study participants were divided into four groups according to their level of optimism, which was calculated from answers to a 30-item questionnaire.

To continue reading this article, you must login.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »