Michigan District Optimists proudly announces the results of the 2021-22 Essay Scholarship Contest!
1st Place and winner of the $2,500 scholarship:
Grace Brege, age 18,
Alpena High School
Optimist Club of Alpine
Claire Johnson, age 16,
Ogemaw Heights High School
West Branch Optimist Club
Shreya Balla, age 17,
Plymouth High School
Plymouth‐Canton Optimist Club
Many thanks to our judges!
Betty Kozma, PhD, Fprmer/Retired Principal, L’Anse Creuse Elementary School
Elaine Middlekauff, PhD, Oakland University, Dept of Organizational Leadership, Galileo Institute
Brittany Cycholl, MBA, Assoc Principal at Slalom Consulting, LLC, Author of “Freckle Faced Gus”
The 2022‐23 Scholarship Contest opens Oct 1st, 2022
How Does an Optimistic Mindset Change My Tomorrow?
This just in: a miracle solution to living a longer life has been discovered! Researchers say that this simple cure can help increase your lifespan by up to three years (National Institute For Health and Welfare). The best part? This cure is available to everyone right now without a prescription. Young or old, rich or poor, big or small, we can all enjoy a better tomorrow. This miracle remedy for a finer future is known as none other than optimism.
That’s right; no pill, no patch, no shot, and no surgery is required to give yourself an effortlessly better future. All it takes is a little positivity. But how does believing that things will get better result in physical changes? Having an optimistic mindset today can have positive impacts on your mental, physical, and emotional health that increase the quality and length of life as a whole.
Having an optimistic mindset can improve your mental health in drastic ways. Those who chronically struggle with anxiety and depression will often report symptoms such as worry, hopelessness, low self esteem, and loss of pleasure in otherwise enjoyable activities (Mayo Clinic). Constantly dealing with these stressors takes a s_ignificant toll on quality of life. As a result, it’s been reported that those who deal with chronic depression often have a life expectancy of almost ten years less than those who don’t (Gustke). This statistic isn’t even counting those who choose to take their own life because of the feelings associated with their anxiety or depression. Many of these symptoms can be decreased or eliminated by having an optimistic mindset. Truly believing in yourself and your future reduces the likelihood of struggling with
chronic mental illness.
Additionally, having an optimistic mindset can actually drastically improve your physical health as well. One of the invisible aspects of life that determines the health of one’s body is stress. A surprising amount of physical ailments can be exacerbated by stress. For instance, stress can increase blood pressure, affect digestion and stomach health, reduce quality of sleep, reduce or increase appetite, and more (Cleveland Clinic). These small symptoms can snowball into much larger problems if they become persistent. An optimistic mindset can greatly reduce stress which, in tum, reduces physical irritants. It may not seem like keeping a positive attitude can help keep us from having heart attacks, strokes, ulcers, and a slew of other problems, but it can.
On a similar note, an optimistic mindset can also prevent serious issues like substance abuse and gambling problems. Oftentimes substance abuse is a coping mechanism for the inability to manage stress or a lack of self worth associated with negative thoughts. In addition to the obvious negative physiological effects of drug and alcohol use, substance abuse also has numerous lifestyle consequences. Those who struggle with substance abuse are less likely to hold a stable job and more likely to end up in poverty than those who don’t. Maintaining an optimistic mindset means keeping oneself out of the grips of such an awful disease.
Much like mental health, an optimistic mindset can also improve one’s emotional health as well. Emotional health differs from mental health in the sense that it impacts how we manage and respond to our emotions rather than how we process them. Optimism makes us more likely to responsibly respond to situations by maintaining the mindset that our life will improve with the use of positive coping methods as opposed to negative ones. Having a greater sense of self esteem leads to a greater likelihood of choosing and maintaining relationships that are supportive and uplifting. As a result, there are more people in our lives who will push us to be better versions of ourselves.
Some might think it’s crazy to say that something as simple as optimism can make such drastic changes in our futures. However, all signs point to having an optimistic mindset as being one of the simplest ways to show massive improvements in mental, physical and emotional health. Life is more complicated than trying to smile through struggles, but having an optimistic mindset today can do nothing except set us up for a better tomorrow. So next time you think about hiring a life coach or seeing a psychiatrist to better your days, try changing your outlook with a little more optimism first.
“Depression (Major Depressive Disorder).” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical
Education and Research, 3 Feb. 2018,
Gustke, Constance. “Depression and Early Death.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 18 Nov. 2017,
“Heavy Stress and Lifestyle Can Predict How Long We Live.” ScienceDaily, ScienceDaily, 11
“Stress: Signs, Symptoms, Management & Prevention.” Cleveland Clinic, https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/11874-stress.
Grace Brege, age 18
Alpena High School