So we've talked about what optimism predicts. Better physical health, longer life, better relationships, better mental health, you're seen as a better leader. Now, some of you, probably like me or thinking, come on. How is it that the way you're thinking, your optimism, your beliefs about the future and your beliefs about why bad and good things have happened to you. How is it possible that optimism predicts all of those really incredible and important bottom line outcomes? Maybe it's my pessimism, but when I was reading this literature the first time, I'm thinking, come on. One variable can't predict all those things. I mean, it's not a magic bullet. But here's the thing, it isn't a magic bullet. That optimism is a belief system, it's a set of thoughts. And as we're going to talk about later, our thoughts drive, our thoughts determine what we feel, what we do, and so I want to sort of part the curtains on optimism for a second, and explore with you, how is it that optimism does all that? What are the behaviors that optimists are engaging in, that maybe pessimists are not, and it's those behaviors that are driving all of those really, really important bottom line outcomes. So let's think about it. Now there have been lots of studies done that look at, not just the outcomes that optimism predicts, but exactly what the mechanisms are, the behaviors are. So here are some. And again, I like to clump things. So one category of variables has to do with the cognitive, how our perceptions. So here's something. Optimists compared to pessimists, or certainly strong optimists compared to people who are less optimistic. The strong optimists are better able and identifying problems. So contrary to what maybe popular opinion is, optimist are not people who are putting their head in the sand like an ostrich and sort of pretending it's only rainbows and butterflies and unicorns. Optimists are people who are more skillful at identifying problems. And maybe because they're skillful at identifying problems, that enables some of those good outcomes, because they know what the problem is and therefore they can effect change. Another sort of, cognitive variable, is optimists are much more likely to see a situation as a challenge, not a threat. So let's explore that for a second. If you get a negative health diagnosis and you see it as a threat, it scares you, it overwhelms you. You see it as a threat that you can't cope with. Maybe you're more likely to withdraw. Whereas if you're an optimist and you see it as a challenge. Okay, this is going to be hard but I got this. I have the skills and the ability to cope with this. That that perception of challenge versus threat might lead a behaviors that enable better health outcomes. Another thing that optimists do more of than less optimistic people, is that they identify what they can control. They identify what they can influence or leverage. So when there's a problem situation, the optimist is more skillful at saying this piece of this problem, I can do something about that. This piece of the problem, I can influence, or control, or there's some wiggle room there. Whereas the pessimist is more likely to focus on the aspects of the problem that she can do nothing about. And kind of bemoan the aspects of the problem she could do nothing about. Now it's not just control that the optimist focuses on. The optimist also is more likely to accept the aspects of the situation that he or she can't control. So rather than focusing on parts of the situation that I can't change anyway, the optimist focuses on the parts that he or she can change, and accepts the parts that he or she can't. Think about what that means for your energy. If my energy is going toward changing what's changeable. And not lamenting, or bemoaning, or fighting what is not changeable. That's going to keep me more energized, and maybe that's part of what leads to some of those good outcomes we were just talking about. Now another aspect of what may be driving these outcomes, is that optimists are doing things in a category that I would call behavioral or behaviors, different than pessimists. So here are some of those differences. Optimist tend to be more approach oriented, so they walk towards the problem. They come up with strategies to affect change. Whereas the pessimist tends to be more avoiding, they withdraw. And again if you think about some of those outcomes we were talking about in the realm of health, in the realm of relationships, in the realm of emotional well-being. An approach orientation, an orientation that leads you to step in and find solutions, is probably going to lead to better outcomes than an orientation which you withdraw. Okay, optimists also are more likely to seek information. So an optimist who gets maybe a scary health diagnosis is more likely to go online and read about it, and research who are the best doctors. They seek out information. And that, of course, can translate into some real world differences. Optimists are more likely to ask for help. So if we think about just the very basic variable of getting support, an optimist is going to be more likely to ask for help, therefore more likely to receive support. And that can contribute to some of those outcomes we were talking about. Another sort of behavioral difference, is that optimists on average more likely to take action compared to people who are more pessimistic. So they don't just seek information, but they used that information to their advantage. So there's a whole host of sort of behavioral variables. There's other domains as well in which optimists and pessimists seem to, sort of act differently or different behaviors. So one if you think about emotions. Optimists tend to have more positive emotion overall, and we're going to talk later about the role of positive emotion in resilience. Optimists tend to use humor as a way to cope. And I'm guessing that many of you use humor as a way to cope, and by laughing about a struggle, while you are in a midst of it, it can defuse some stress. And that's going to have positive benefits in your mental health and emotional health. Additionally, there are just some very specific proactive behaviors that optimists are more likely to engage in. So optimists are more likely to have an exercise routine that they stick with. Well of course, that's going to translate to better physical health. And I would argue, emotional health. Optimists tend to eat more healthfully. They are putting better food in their bodies, so their bodies are probably performing better. So there are all sorts of variables that we can identify, that explain how optimism leads to all of those bottom line changes we've covered. If you're identifying problems, seeing challenge not threat, focusing on what you can control, taking purposeful action, and not sweating the stuff you can't do anything about. If you're asking for help, and making plans, and taking action, and using humor, if you think about that constellation of ingredients of an optimist, you can see how those behaviors, those thoughts and behaviors, lead to those bottom line changes we've talked about. So optimism leads to really important behavioral differences, and those behavioral differences affect our health, our relationships, our mortality, many variables. Okay, so let's just put this all together. Remember I said that one important cluster of outcomes has to do with physical health. So we know from that research that pessimistic thinkers are more likely to have coronary artery disease, or more likely to die from cardiac events. Even after you control for severity of heart attack and family history, compared to more optimistic thinkers. Now let's just figure out how that might happen through what we just talked about, as these sort of mechanisms or the behaviors that an optimist engages in. So for example, let's imagine that you're in a middle age gentleman, you're a pessimist, and the doctor comes in and says, look that is a really big heart attack. This is something serious, I need you to take it seriously. What does pessimist say to himself? Well maybe it's something like you know what, my dad died of a heart attack, his dad had heart disease, this is all genetic anyway, there's nothing I can do about it. That set of beliefs, that pessimism, causes him to withdrawal, to not take purposeful action. To maybe continue to eat the unhealthy foods he was already eating, because it's all in the genes anyway. And because he's not changing his behavior, because his pessimism is driving him towards passivity, he's not changing his behavior. So he's going to be more likely to go on to die from a subsequent heart attack, compared to the optimist. The optimist, when the doctor comes in and says, hey look, that was a big one, you need to take this seriously, your dad died of a heart attack too so I want this to be a wake up call for you. What does the optimist say? Well the optimist thinks, look, yeah, my dad did die of heart attack, I don't want that to be me. There's things that I can do differently. My future's going to be bright and I'm going to make change. And because of that belief, the optimist identifies the problem, identifies what he can control. So maybe I need to change my diet. Maybe what I need to do, is starting today, exercise a little bit more. If I make those changes, eat better, exercise more, I'm going to be controlling what I can control. And by doing that, by taking that purposeful action, the optimist is going to be more likely to live compared to the pessimist. So again, just want to summarize, we're talking about belief systems but what you think, what you believe, your basic stance in the world of optimism versus pessimism. Affects what you do, it affects your resilience, it effects your ability to struggle through difficult times. And so we're going to teach you how you can increase your optimism.