Success Story

Our success story in Chapter 8 is Drew McOnie. Drew is an Olivier-award-winning director and choreographer working in film and television. He has created major productions for both Broadway and the West End, including King Kong, Strictly Ballroom the Musical, Jesus Christ Superstar, On The Town and Chicago. You can find out more about Drew at:




People or stories included

Tigger –

Winston Churchill –

Kahlil Gibran –

McLandburgh Wilson –

The Serenity Prayer –,to%20identify%20which%20circumstances%20are%20amenable%20to%20change.

Sir James Dyson –

Thomas Edison –

Diana Nyad – (and her awesome book) :

Ed Jackson –

Nik, Harry and Archie Robinson, owners of Good Citizens –

Lt. Gen. Lewis ‘Chesty’ Puller –

Studies discussed

A third of UK marriages end in divorce:

The Swedish twin study estimating the heritability of optimism and pessimism was around 25%: Plomin, R., Scheier, M. F., Bergeman, C. S., Pedersen, N. L., Nesselroade, J. R., & McClearn, G. E. (1992). Optimism, pessimism and mental health: A twin/adoption analysis. Personality and individual differences13(8), 921-930.

The analysis of eight-nine thousand people in twenty-two countries finding that about 80 per cent of us are quite optimistic: Fischer, R., & Chalmers, A. (2008). Is optimism universal? A meta-analytical investigation of optimism levels across 22 nations. Personality and Individual Differences45(5), 378-382.

A study covering 150,000 people in 142 countries looked even wider finding the majority of us are optimistic: Gallagher, M. W., Lopez, S. J., & Pressman, S. D. (2013). Optimism is universal: Exploring the presence and benefits of optimism in a representative sample of the world. Journal of Personality81(5), 429-440.

The meta-analysis of eighty-three studies which found optimism to be a significant predictor of physical and psychological health outcomes: Rasmussen, H. N., Scheier, M. F., & Greenhouse, J. B. (2009). Optimism and physical health: A meta-analytic review. Annals of behavioral medicine37(3), 239-256.

Study finding that optimism minimizes hospitalizations for asthma sufferers: Affleck, G., Tennen, H., & Apter, A. (2001). Optimism, pessimism, and daily life with chronic illness.

Study finding that optimism reduces the distress of a breast cancer: Carver, C. S., Pozo, C., Harris, S. D., Noriega, V., Scheier, M. F., Robinson, D. S., … & Clark, K. C. (1999). How coping mediates the effect of optimism on distress: a study of women with early stage breast cancer.

Study finding that optimism minimizes reduces of distress of failed IVF treatments: Litt, M. D., Tennen, H., Affleck, G., & Klock, S. (1992). Coping and Cognitive factors in adaptation toin vitro fertilization failure. Journal of behavioral medicine15(2), 171-187.

Study finding that optimism reduces the risk of viral infections: Cohen, S., Alper, C. M., Doyle, W. J., Treanor, J. J., & Turner, R. B. (2006). Positive emotional style predicts resistance to illness after experimental exposure to rhinovirus or influenza A virus. Psychosomatic medicine68(6), 809-815.

Studies of those with cardiovascular disease finding optimists show lower levels of distress: Tindle, H. A., Chang, Y. F., Kuller, L. H., Manson, J. E., Robinson, J. G., Rosal, M. C., … & Matthews, K. A. (2009). Optimism, cynical hostility, and incident coronary heart disease and mortality in the Women’s Health Initiative. Circulation120(8), 656-662.

The 839 patients who had their optimism levels measured and were revisited thirty years later: Maruta, T., Colligan, R. C., Malinchoc, M., & Offord, K. P. (2000, February). Optimists vs pessimists: survival rate among medical patients over a 30-year period. In Mayo Clinic Proceedings (Vol. 75, No. 2, pp. 140-143). Elsevier.

The University of North Carolina students who were tracked for forty years.

Brummett, B. H., Helms, M. J., Dahlstrom, W. G., & Siegler, I. C. (2006, December). Prediction of all-cause mortality by the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory Optimism-Pessimism Scale scores: study of a college sample during a 40-year follow-up period. In Mayo Clinic Proceedings (Vol. 81, No. 12, pp. 1541-1544). Elsevier.

The Dutch study which found that optimists were 55 per cent less likely to die of cardiovascular disease than pessimists: Giltay, E. J., Kamphuis, M. H., Kalmijn, S., Zitman, F. G., & Kromhout, D. (2006). Dispositional optimism and the risk of cardiovascular death: the Zutphen Elderly Study. Archives of internal medicine166(4), 431-436.

The study of women in Sweden finding levels of optimism as teens can predict life satisfaction in middle age: Daukantaite, D., & Bergman, L. R. (2005). Childhood roots of women’s subjective well-being: The role of optimism. European psychologist10(4), 287-297.

The 2008 study finding optimists tend to have less cortisol in their bloodstream: Steptoe, A., O’Donnell, K., Badrick, E., Kumari, M., & Marmot, M. (2008). Neuroendocrine and inflammatory factors associated with positive affect in healthy men and women: the Whitehall II study. American journal of epidemiology167(1), 96-102.

18 of the 22 American presidential elections seeing the candidate with the most optimistic campaign speeches win.

Zullow, H. M., & Seligman, M. E. (1990). Pessimistic rumination predicts defeat of presidential candidates, 1900 to 1984. Psychological Inquiry1(1), 52-61.

The study finding optimistic salespeople sell 56 per cent more than their pessimistic colleagues and staff retention improves: Study

The study finding for each point on their optimism score, former law students made an extra US$32,667 a year: Segerstrom, S. C. (2007). Optimism and resources: Effects on each other and on health over 10 years. Journal of Research in Personality41(4), 772-786.

Optimists being more likely to save: Gielan, M. (2018). Mind over Money: How Optimism Connects to Financial Health. Frost Bank.

The study of couples who had been through a failed cycle of IVF: Vieyra, M. A., Tennen, H., Affleck, G., Allen, G., & McCann, L. (1990). The effects of gender and measurement strategy on causal attributions for infertility. Basic and applied social psychology11(2), 219-232.

Use of  ‘best possible self’ manipulation to feel more optimistic and less pain: Blackwell, S. E., Rius-Ottenheim, N., Schulte-van Maaren, Y. W., Carlier, I. V., Middelkoop, V. D., Zitman, F. G., … & Giltay, E. J. (2013). Optimism and mental imagery: a possible cognitive marker to promote well-being?. Psychiatry Research206(1), 56-61.

A study asking respondents to spend 5 minutes every day over 2 weeks imagining themselves as a future self for whom everything had turned out optimally: Meevissen, Y. M., Peters, M. L., & Alberts, H. J. (2011). Become more optimistic by imagining a best possible self: Effects of a two week intervention. Journal of behavior therapy and experimental psychiatry42(3), 371-378.

The 2007 study on how writing about negative thoughts puts them in perspective and increases positive expectations: Langens, T. A., & Schüler, J. (2007). Effects of written emotional expression: The role of positive expectancies. Health Psychology26(2), 174.

Study on smiling during competition: Brick, N. E., McElhinney, M. J. & Metcalfe, R. S. (2018). The effects of facial expression and relaxation cues on movement economy, physiological, and perceptual responses during running. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 34, 20-28.

The cyclists riding in a lab looking at smiling or frowning faces. Blanchfield, A., Hardy, J. & Marcora, S. (2014). Non-conscious visual cues related to affect and action alter perception of effort and endurance performance. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 8, 967.