You are extraordinarily hopeful. The benefits: one study of British
civil servants suggests you are less likely to get heart disease and
more likely to survive cancer, and a study from the USA finds that
if you have a heart attack and find a silver lining to your misfortune,
you are less likely to have a second one. But according to another
20-year study, extremely positive people die younger because they
underestimate real health risks. So temper your high spirits with
caution, if you really want something to look forward to.
You are an optimist most of the time, as are the majority of people.
Your optimism makes you slightly delusional and happier and
healthier for it, but you are able to be pessimistic when you need
to be, too: worries about failure help motivate you to achieve
your goals. You're also likely to believe, like most people, that you
have more influence over events than you do: in an experiment
where people were sat in front of a randomly flashing green
light and asked to press a button, most subjects thought their
button-pressing had some influence on the light. Only clinically
depressed participants saw the truth of the situation.
You are miserably negative. Do not despair, psychologist Martin
Seligman's prescription for pessimists is simple: argue with
yourself. Insist that disappointments are temporary. Force yourself
to believe that positive events are signs that things are good
in general. It may sound illogical, but you are being illogical already.
Be more hopeful. Unless, that is, you're in prison. Being happy
in a prison may require abandoning all hope, thereby neutralizing
the painful sense that life could be different. This feeling is most
acute at the beginning of sentences (50 percent of suicides
in US prisons occur during the first 24 hours of confinement)
and at the very end. Be more optimistic, but if you get locked up,