Can Being Optimistic Keep Your Heart Healthy?

Having an optimistic outlook seems to come naturally to some people while being quite difficult for others to achieve. Research has shown that people with positive psychological well-being (PPWB) tend to have fewer physical and mental health problems than those with negative well-being. In particular, studies have focused on how well-being affects issues such as anger, depression, anxiety, substance use, and trauma and has indicated that negative affect and outlook can exacerbate symptoms of these conditions. Additionally, research has provided evidence of a clear link between negative well-being, stress, and cardiovascular disease (CVD). But until now, few studies have focused on the effects of PPWB. To explore this dynamic, Julia K. Boehm of the Department of Society, Human Development, and Health at the Harvard School of Public Health recently conducted a review of existing research to expose the specific psychological and physical benefits of PPWB.

Boehm looked at PPWB that was related to life purpose and also happiness and found that the strongest indicator of cardiovascular health was optimism. She discovered that the existing research showed that individuals with PPWB tended to engage in healthier behaviors, such as adhering to proper diet and participating in regular exercise, than those with low well-being and were therefore at lower risk for CVD. Although the research demonstrated a link between PPWB and healthy behaviors, Boehm says there is not enough evidence to determine if this relationship is bidirectional. The results also revealed that moderate drinkers had higher levels of PPWB while those with high levels of alcohol consumption or complete abstinence had low PPWB. Other negative behaviors, such as smoking, were reduced in the individuals with high PPWB and elevated in those with low PPWB. Boehm believes the results of this analysis shed light on the relationship between PPWB and physical health but do not fully answer the question of whether PPWB leads to healthy behaviors and better overall health. Boehm added, “Perhaps one of the most striking findings in this review is just how few studies have addressed issues related to the direction of the association between PPWB and health behaviors.”

Boehm, J. K., Kubzansky, L. D. (2012). The heart’s content: The association between positive psychological well-being and cardiovascular health. Psychological Bulletin 138.4: 655-691.

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  • JarodBlassingame


    August 3rd, 2012 at 6:24 PM

    Glad that we are finally seeing true datasets that reflect positively on the human condition when humans are positive. I have always maintained that I feel better when I am happy. My heart is lighter my attitude more cheery. Clearly I am in a better way at that point.

    Please keep writing articles reinforcing this situation with us.

  • frank


    August 3rd, 2012 at 6:42 PM

    a positive and optimistic outlook is always an asset.whether it helps your physical health or not,it can definitely improve the quality of your is a wonderful thing to be an optimist because that kind of an outlook will eventually help you tide over whatever life throws at you and will in general better prepare you for all things tough.

  • jeremy


    August 4th, 2012 at 8:54 PM

    Can Being Optimistic Keep Your Heart Healthy?

    Yes, it certainly can. It is a well known fact that those with an optimistic outlook tend to live longer and have better health than those with a pessimistic or even a neutral outlook. And to add to that, I can clearly feel how good my health is when i am going through the better patches in my life than when compared to those teary and low periods in life.

  • Donna b

    Donna b

    August 5th, 2012 at 4:16 AM

    Of course! It is not just about being an optimistic person. It is the sort of lifestyle that an optimistic lifestyle generally tends to lead to. You think more about taking care of your body in a healthy way, and you engage in behaviors that will tend to keep you healthier for a longer period of time.

  • natalie


    August 5th, 2012 at 6:17 PM

    my husband just cannot see the good in any situation.frankly he is someone who will look for things that can bring down the cheer in any situation.I don’t know why it is maybe because he grew up in a pretty difficult environment but I just hope this outlook of his does not cause harm to his health.

  • Ethan U

    Ethan U

    August 6th, 2012 at 4:12 AM

    More drinking= lower feelings of self worth and well being?
    I believe that.

  • Tonia Gettys

    Tonia Gettys

    August 7th, 2012 at 4:27 PM

    much better than being negative all the time, don’t ya think?

  • raspberry moon

    raspberry moon

    August 8th, 2012 at 11:45 AM

    Being optimistic typically means that. . .
    you will eat right
    you will exercise
    you will be kinder to others
    they will be kinder to you
    you will see the world as a place for hope
    and not just for hate
    you will see the good in others
    not only just the bad
    you will take care of the mind, body and spirit
    and others will then do the same for you

  • Rafia


    December 19th, 2014 at 2:58 AM

    At present, heart disease is a global setback and a major cause of deaths in America. There are certain risk factors apart from unhealthy diet and lifestyle, like family history, age which are beyond human power to change. But it doesn’t mean that you have to accept it as your destiny. Researchers and experts have covered a long way to prevent such heart problems from casting a shadow in your life

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