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Can Watching TV and Movies Enhance Our Sense of Optimism?

Watching TV shows and films can be a positive addition to our lives in many ways, serving as an escape from our own reality for a while as well as an outlet for processing our personal life experiences. Some people may find that certain TV shows or movies are particularly inspirational and provide a helpful perspective for looking at the world. Maybe you’ve wondered how what we watch influences the way we view the world. Could TV shows and movies have a direct impact on our sense of optimism?


Defining Optimism

Optimism can be defined as maintaining a sense of positivity and hopefulness for the future. While optimism is often thought of as putting on a cheery disposition even in the toughest of circumstances, it is important to emphasize that being optimistic is not synonymous with ignoring reality. In fact, suppressing one’s negative emotions in favor of trying to ‘look on the bright side’ in any situation may signal toxic positivity, which has many harmful effects.

On the other hand, healthy optimism involves acknowledging the full range of one’s emotions while at the same time, still acknowledging that these uncomfortable or painful feelings will not last forever, and things can get better. Research has revealed that optimism is an essential predictor for developing resilience, and can play a powerful role in managing stress and healing from trauma.

For more articles and information about optimism and mental health, visit BetterHelp.


The Power of TV and Movies in Promoting Optimism

There are various ways in which TV and movies do hold the potential to enhance our level of optimism. Through viewing others’ stories, we have the opportunity to explore the complexities of life. We gain new understanding about the experience of being human, which includes pain and loss, as well as deep joy. Watching characters navigate a multitude of experiences can be a reminder of the reality that life is never going to be void of hardships, but that doesn’t mean that we will be overtaken by them. Circumstances can and do change, as well as our perspectives about what we go through.

It can be incredibly healing to follow the journey of a character and watch their story unfold throughout the span of a film or a number of episodes. Through this, we can be reminded that despite the difficulty of a circumstance, there is hope for change; for our favorite characters and for us. Just like those we watch on screen, we find ways to live with our grief or pain so that it no longer feels all-consuming. We overcome a seemingly insurmountable obstacle. We discover that we are not alone and that makes all the difference. Remembering that painful times and uncomfortable feelings are inevitable, but they don’t last forever can have a direct impact on our level of optimism as we navigate our own challenges.

TV and movies also show us that even if our circumstances don’t change, we can still find hope through seeking a sense of meaning. Finding meaning even in times of suffering is an important facet of optimism. Though it doesn’t negate the fact that a situation may be downright hard and painful, there is still the opportunity to view it as an avenue for deeper awareness of ourselves, the world, and our purpose. As characters undergo struggles that may be similar to ours, we can gain perspective from seeing how they might pursue meaning and purpose even in the midst of hardships.


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