Society Magazine

Cup Half Full? Brits Are Actually Optimists (surprisingly Enough)

Posted on the 27 February 2013 by 72point @72hub

It will come as a shock to many – but Britain is actually a ‘cup half full’ nation, research has shown. A study found despite the lingering economic doom, soaring cost of living and stagnant  housing market, the majority of us have adopted a Monty Python-esque ‘always look on the bright side of life’ attitude.

The trend emerged amid a detailed study, which initially asked people to opt for ‘cup half full’ or ‘cup half empty’, and then examined the reasoning behind their decision.

The results settled the age old debate around the popular saying, with six in ten people claiming they adopt a positive outlook overall.

The research explored satisfaction levels across all aspects of modern life, with the average person rating themselves at 64% happy.

Interestingly, men are more likely to adopt a ‘cup half full’ mentality than women, with  salary, career prospects and finances all causes for optimism.

Meanwhile, the study, by leading health and wellbeing mutual Benenden Health, found women are generally happy about their ‘family life’, the place where they live and ‘overall health’.

Paul Keenan, Head of Communications at Benenden Health said:

”Given the pessimistic economic outlook, the financial restraints everyone is under and the dark winter days that seem to drag on, it’s good to discover that deep down, there seems to be a positive and forward-looking attitude across Britain.

”Certainly, a positive attitude goes a long way towards creating a feeling of wellbeing which in turn can only be good for our long term health.

”This doesn’t detract from the fact that many families have real difficulties and struggles to face in the current economic climate – but perhaps serves to demonstrate that the British ‘stiff upper lip’ is alive and well in the 21st century.”

The biggest barrier to feeling content in day to day life was money worries, which affected 46% of respondents.

In fact, it would take just £132 extra a month for the average person to make ends meet, dramatically improving their overall happiness – proving that a relatively modest sum can help increase the average person’s outlook on life.

Brits said more sunny weather would be the thing most likely to raise their optimism day to day, while a little more money each month, seeing less negative news items and more affection from a partner would raise the spirits massively.

Eating a better diet, a job that is more satisfying and finally shaking a long term injury or illness all featured in the top 10 wishes for a brighter outlook, while more reassurance from the boss, time with the kids and even a favorite sports team performing better featured highly in the list.

A fairly patient one third of people studied would be more optimistic in life if their partner showed them more commitment.

And, perhaps contrary to popular belief, getting hitched seems to do wonders for a brighter perspective on life, with married people rating significantly happier than singles in almost all categories.

But it’s not always easy, and one fifth of less fortunate couples said they had actually become less optimistic in life since getting married.

When looking forwards, the study was split 50/50 between those who thought they had good reason to be positive and those searching for reasons to be optimistic about their life.

However there was a clear trend towards happiness growing with age – over 55s proved the most likely to rate themselves as an eternal optimist.

Interestingly, the younger generation seemed less upbeat overall and were most likely to say their outlook has become gloomier in recent times.

This trend rises directly with age, with the under 25s most likely to say their perspective on life has become more negative and the over 55s least likely to feel their optimism has declined.

Paul Keenan added:

“It’s interesting to see that men are more likely to adopt a more upbeat view overall – although that particular finding is likely to be a debate that will rumble on and on!”


1.    More sunny weather
2.    Just a couple of hundred pounds extra each month
3.    Less negative news items
4.    More affection from a partner
5.    Improving my diet
6.    Finding a job I like
7.    Finally shaking an illness/injury
8.    Reassurances from my boss
9.    More time spent with the kids
10.    My sports team performing better



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