Science of Hope: Research finds that optimism saves lives

Being hopeful doesn't only feel good, science shows it can also improve your health and save your life. It can also give you a reason to get up in the morning, even when life seems to hit you hard. This morning, we are sharing one woman's story, and how hope made an impact in her life.

ORLANDO, Fla. – Being hopeful doesn’t just feel good, science shows it can improve your health and save your life. It can also give you a reason to get up in the morning, even when life seems to hit you hard.

“A car came down the highway and crashed into us and I was crushed,” Jamie Blanek, a car crash survivor, said.

The next memory Jamie Blanek had was waking up in the ICU. Her right leg gone — her left leg crushed.

“I was an active person, and I was a model,” Blanek said. “I traveled; I owned a business.”

Jamie lost a lot, but she said she never lost hope.

“I’ve gone through this whole process wanting to reach my goals,” Blanek said.

Social science researchers at Arizona state university found that hopeful people are able to set goals easier, identify ways to reach their goals and achieve those goals. Jamie’s trauma surgeon Daniel Stahl sees how hope makes an impact in the emergency room.

“There’s also a hope that as a trauma surgeon, you have to instill to say, even though this terrible thing happened to you, we’re gonna, we’re gonna fix what we can fix,” Stahl said.

He believes honesty and positivity can change outcomes.

“I think when they hear that from their surgeon, it, it does, it instills a lot of hope.”

Research shows you can learn to be more hopeful by taking small steps to reach long-term success. Check in with yourself regularly to make sure your goal is still what you want.

Hope takes practice and it’s easier to have it if you foster a culture of hope, surrounding yourself with others who hold your optimistic view.

On the 10-month anniversary of Jamie’s accident on her birthday, Jamie reached her goal of getting back out on her snowboard.

“I survived for a reason,” Blanek said. “And the future is very bright.”

According to a 2019 study, researchers found that optimism is specifically related to a 15 percent longer life span and to a greater odd of living to the age of 85 and beyond.