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Pursuing your dreams and staying positive can improve mental health

Have you ever experienced that flicker of excitement and happiness after accomplishing a goal or a long-held dream? Often, when we finally achieve something that we have been pursuing for a while, we usually feel a sense of gratification and pride in being able to commit ourselves to our goals and see them through to the end. A recent study suggests that those individuals who persevere to achieve their aspirations may have lower incidents of certain mood disorders.

The study, which was recently published in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology, surveyed more than 3,000 people in the United States over a period of 18 years, looking at their tendency of persisting for their goals, having a positive attitude when facing challenges, and self-mastery, that is, believing in one’s ability to fulfill their goals. The study found that those individuals who indicated greater goal persistence and optimism at the beginning of the study had lower incidences of anxiety, depressive, and panic disorders throughout the study. Moreover, those who began the study with a more robust mental health showed the greatest increase in persistence levels and in general kept a more positive approach to life. Self-mastery, on the other hand, did not appear to have an impact on mental health.

Researchers believe that these results will prove particularly helpful for counsellors in helping individuals cope with mood disorders by coming up with techniques that can boost their optimism and their ability and drive to follow through with their aspirations. For many individuals suffering from anxiety and/or depression, it can be a relief to know that there are a variety of ways to better manage and alleviate their condition. Working on persevering for their life-long goals and keeping a positive outlook can be two important tools in helping individuals build resiliency, gain success in their personal and professional lives, and ultimately improve their sense of well-being and fulfillment.


“Perseverance Toward Life Goals Can Fend Off Depression, Anxiety, Panic Disorders” (2019). Retrieved from

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