Live with Optimism and Purpose

Recommendation #3 and #4 of 31 for Optimizing Health and Extending Lifespan
Rating: 4.2 out of 5 (9 ratings)
405 students
English [Auto]

The Why and How of Living with Purpose and Being Optimistic


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Did you know that 3 out of 4 U.S. adults don't have a clear sense of purpose? And nearly 50% of U.S. adults are pessimistic?

Not only does a strong life purpose and an optimistic attitude have psychological benefits, researchers are discovering that purpose and optimism effect our physical health as well. 

People who identify a strong life purpose are half as likely to die prematurely as those without purpose.  Individuals who are optimistic have a 14% lower risk of premature death compared to those who are pessimistic about the future.

How does strong life purpose and an optimistic attitude effect health, and lower risk of death? Researchers have identified two pathways. Those with strong life purpose and optimism have decreased inflammation and decreased levels of stress hormones.  Higher levels of inflammation result in increased risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer. Increased stress hormones, especially cortisol, results in a weakened immune system, heart disease, high blood pressure, and increased risk of diabetes. The other pathway whereby purpose and optimism relates to health has to do with behaviors. Those with strong life purpose and an optimistic attitude eat healthier diets and exercise more. They also enjoy better sleep which protects against many of the diseases of aging.

Is it all doom and gloom? Is our sense of purpose or lack thereof, and our outlook on the future something we're born with and can't change? Absolutely not, there are scientifically based proven strategies for increasing life purpose and fostering optimism. That's what you'll learn in this course.

In this course, Dr. Nicholas Cohen, MD, a primary care physician in San Francisco, provides a comprehensive plan to help you enhance your purpose in life, and foster an optimistic attitude. You'll learn about the causes of lack of life purpose and pessimism, and he'll share with you effective strategies that have worked for thousands of his patients to improve their purpose and outlook.

The course begins with the definition and prevalence of life purpose and optimism. Next, Dr. Cohen shows the evidence for the health impact of lack of purpose and pessimism, how these characteristics shortens lifespan.  In the next section, he'll describe the main factors that lead to pessimism and lack of purpose.  This will be followed by an overview of the impact of pessimism and lack of purpose on health.   Dr. Cohen will then share with you tips for fostering purpose and optimism.  These are tips he follows himself to maintain his own psychological health. These recommendations promote health, and are a comprehensive strategy to living healthier, not just changing your attitude in the short term. Finally, Dr. Cohen will answer some frequently asked questions, and conclude with a summary of the information covered.

Who this course is for:

  • Anyone who wants to optimize health and extend lifespan


Primary Care Physician
Nicholas Cohen, MD
  • 4.5 Instructor Rating
  • 196 Reviews
  • 5,183 Students
  • 37 Courses

Nicholas Cohen has been a primary care physician for over 11 years.  He received his medical degree from New York University School of Medicine, and completed residency and fellowship at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. He is currently affiliated with University of California San Francisco seeing patients at a primary care clinic in downtown San Francisco.