The following chapters focus on the optimists and the catastrophizers. Throughout life, a lot of us are lead to believe that if we focus on improving our happiness, we will physically be in better shape. However, that is not the case. Our happiness and physical health may be connected, but it is difficult to tell whether emotions alone cause us to be physically healthier. If our optimism leads to health-promoting behaviors (i.e. taking medication on time), such as in the case of Paul, then our health is more likely to improve.
If one feels that one mistake will always have dramatic effects, they may be catastrophizers, a trait that is related to earlier deaths. On the other hand, deaths by suicide were noticed to be related to a loss in one’s sense of order and agency in the world. This could have occurred at any point in their lifetime and many events might have gradually accumulated to one’s loss. In old age, Dr. Schneidman found that people did not regret their actions, but rather the actions that they did not take.
These chapters were interesting in the sense that they showed how being on either extreme of the spectrum of optimism and pessimism are correlated with shorter lives. It is interesting to see how high conscientiousness still plays a factor with longer health. In my day to day life, I understand that reasoning. If I feel really pessimistic towards an exam because I do not like the class and do not understand the material very well, I tend to develop a schedule to study for it to hopefully do better. In the physical health realm, if I am feeling optimistic, ie in accomplishing my personal health project, I am going to create a routine to help reach that goal.
Through the reading in chapter 6, I was trouble linking the catastrophizers to suicide. Were those who tended to think catastrophically more likely to end their lives? On page 64, the authors mention that the findings on those two showed how individuals were often missing something from childhood but that is it. If there is no obvious direct link, does it make sense to put these two studies together in one chapter?