If I rolled my eyes every time someone told me to "look on the bright side," my pupils would permanently be in the back of my head.
It's not that I'm necessarily a negative Nancy — just a realistic one. Sure, staying positive when life throws a wrench your way sounds like a great idea, but does it really help?
If you ask science, there is evidence that positive thinking has its benefits. A study from last year that looked at 70,000 women found that those who had higher optimism levels were less likely to die from major causes of death (such as cancer, heart disease, stroke, respiratory disease, and infection) than those who were less optimistic. The reason, researchers theorized, was that optimism is associated with other healthy behaviors and healthy ways of coping with life.
But is optimism really the key to a healthier, happier life? Joel Minden, PhD, a licensed clinical psychologist in Chico, CA, says that trying to be more positive can bring some much-needed balance to life for people who might have depression or anxiety and often have negative thought patterns.
Dr. Minden adds that if you tend get stuck in the defeatist mindset that nothing ever goes your way, you probably won't put much effort into trying to improve your situation, and if you think that people will think you're weird or awkward, you’ll probably feel anxious about talking to them.
So theoretically, on the flip side, believing that things will go your way and that people do like you will help you improve your life and friendships. As someone who does struggle with depression and who could probably benefit from a little more optimism, I decided to try to positive-think my way through life for five days. I'll spare you the details of my trying to find "the bright side" of every encounter I had, but to say the least, it wasn't as easy as I thought it'd be.