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Did you know that Academy Award losers die 4 years earlier than Academy Award winners?*  That’s 1,460 days of life snuffed out due to a subjective judgment passed by others on a single performance.

The reason for this startling fact: The losers unconsciously spend the rest of their lives comparing upwards, instead of down. In the case of Oscar nominees who go home empty-handed, many of them harbor resentments against the winners until the day they (prematurely) die, along with hating the guts of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, their agents, their lawyers, the editors at Variety, and the entire Hollywood community. In their minds, they deserved that statue and now the odds are great that they may never get another shot at one as long as they live!

Sure, the losers may mouth the words “I’m just lucky to be here, in the company of these other fine actors,” but how many believe it, live it, and are truly happy for the winner? In fact, unless they know how to process this loss SuperOptimistically, they’re on the road to ill-health and bad fortune.

Instead of obsessing over another person’s success, look over your shoulder at a screw-up.  How about that old roommate who was always borrowing your favorite sweater when you were both in college?

You know — the one who developed the dependency on prescription drugs and is now living in the basement of his mother’s house?

And if you’re really in a fix, think about someone you knew who you didn’t like very much, and who is now dead and gone. Just a skull and bones, rotting away while you get to enjoy a cranberry scone with your piping hot coffee.  Feel better now?

Start any comparison with those less fortunate than yourself, rather than those who have more**, and you’ll be three steps closer to SuperOptimism.

*Redelmeier and Singh, Annals of Internal Medicine, May 2001

**“More” is a technical term used by the SuperOptimist to define the combined problems of money, power, fame, good looks, family status, height, skill, 4.0 GPA, influence, and premium real estate location. All of these are potential impediments to achieving SuperOptimism.

When you smile, don’t hold back.  Show as many teeth as you can.  See if the observer can count at least half your teeth when you beam at them.  A smile is infectious.  But rather than a nasty virus, you’re spreading mirth and merriment.*  And if you can smile even in the worst of circumstances, then you’ve truly mastered the secret to a happier life.

And don’t worry if you don’t have perfect teeth.* Many celebrities have incorporated their crooked smiles into eight-figure incomes. Kirsten Dunst, Steve Buscemi, and Ricky Gervais come to mind. “Are you havin’ a laugh?” They sure are!

Ricky Gervais: 'Before The Office I never tried hard at anything' | Ricky Gervais | The Guardian

*Even if you have poor dental hygiene, people will still return your smile, though they may back up a step or two. We recommend brushing and flossing and visiting the dentist twice a year.