• Vipan Maini

Adopting an Optimistic Mindset: 6 Major Benefits To Your Well-Being

Updated: Mar 22

One of the greatest things about movies lies in their power to transport us to another world - a form of escapism but the very best movies inspire and leave an indelible mark on our minds. The Life of Pi is one of those films. I've seen it numerous times, each time there's something new to see and glean from this cinematic masterpiece. As well as amazing cinematography, the film has unbelievable depth and meaning. Pi, the main character has to find a way to survive 227 days on a lifeboat with only a zebra, a hyena, an orangutan and a 450lb Bengal tiger for company after a shipwreck that killed all his family.

"I tell you, if you were in such dire straits as I was, you too would elevate your thoughts. The lower you are, the higher your mind will want to soar"

The story, at face value, could be seen simply as an adventure story of survival - man versus tiger as Pi is alone on the 27foot lifeboat after the gruesome deaths of the other animals. However, the story is a powerful allegory, in essence about the power of optimism and resilience. How Pi is able to make sense of the tragic loss of his family and is able to successfully rebuild his life finding happiness.

The fallacy of optimism: viewing life with rose-tinted glasses?

The film shines a powerful light on the value of optimism, no matter what situation or events you have gone through. But optimism is not about looking at life through rose-tinted spectacles and ignoring the reality of what is happening and putting a positive spin on anything and everything. In fact, failure to recognise negative events and deal with reality can be harmful to you. It is important to address the issues which hinder you from reaching your goals. Failure to do so will only serve to leave you in a rut or living in a fantasy.

Instead, optimism is a set of beliefs that helps individuals to reflect on the positive aspects of life rather than the negative ones.

"Optimists acknowledge negative events, but they are more likely to avoid blaming themselves for the bad outcome, inclined to view the situation as a temporary one and are likely to expect further positive events in the future"

Dr Aparner Iyer, psychiatrist and assistant professor at the Univesity of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.

In essence, optimistic people let go of negativity, worry less and shift their attention to the positive quicker.

Is there a relationship between optimism and resilience?

Yes, according to a study published in the Clinical Psychology Review. Other studies also show that optimism is a key trait of resilience. People who are resilient (are able to deal with and recover from adversity) tend to be more positive and optimistic compared to less resilient people.

A compelling study was undertaken by Dennis Charney, Dean of Mount Sinai School of Medicine looked at data from 750 Vietnam war veterans who were held captive between 6 to 8 years. Despite their hardships - torture and solitary confinement, these men showed high levels of resilience. Fr