Sabrina Muysken

It’s official, Aussie women aged 18-35 are the most unhappy bunch. A recent study by Australian Unity reported that 43 per cent of all females are viewing the glass as half empty, with Gen Y females being deemed the most pessimistic of them all. Female Baby Boomers are the most optimistic at 64 per cent followed by Gen X females at 57 per cent.

The release of the survey coincides with Australian Unity’s announcement of a new partnership with The Resilience Project, a national organisation teaching Australians positive health strategies. In keeping with Australian Unity’s recent findings, The Resilience Project’s Founder, Hugh Van Cuylenburg, has also identified Gen Y as the most concerning demographic to target. He highlights self-imposed pressure as a key contributing factor in the generation’s failure to find happiness.

“I’m not surprised the research identified Gen Y as the least optimistic generation compared to Gen X and Baby Boomers,” says Hugh, “I’ve delivered programs in more than 400 schools around Australian and have seen first-hand the growing levels of anxiety and depression in young people.”

The research also found there to be one million more optimistic men than women, with Male Baby Boomers being recorded as the most positive. In a gender comparison, every generation of females appears to be less optimistic than their male counterparts. This is thought to be because women are increasingly too hard on themselves.

“One in two Gen Y females are pessimistic about their mental health… It’s evident women set themselves much higher standards than men. I see this every day in schools, workplaces and sporting clubs I work with. When women don’t reach these standards they’re hard on themselves and this is clearly impacting on their levels of optimism.”

The Australian Unity Optimism Study sited “good health and enjoyment of life” as the most influential factors in achieving optimism and revealed “Australian politics and global issues” as playing only a minor role.

Aside from the obvious side effects, an optimistic outlook can also play an integral role in physical health as there have been many links found between poor mental health and disease.

“An optimist is less likely to die from infection, cancer, heart disease, stroke and respiratory disease. Optimists are also likely to enjoy better levels of mental health. Science shows optimists are significantly more successful than pessimists in aversive events and when unforeseen circumstances get in the way achieving important life-goals,” says Laura Jennings, Australian Unity spokesperson.

However, those wanting to change their outlook and see the glass as ‘half full’ needn’t worry as optimism can
be learned.

“The good news is, anyone can rewire their brain to scan the world for the positive,” says Hugh.

A key practice The Resilience Project, and many other mental health initiatives, advocate is the use of a gratitude journal. It has been proven that by adopting the simple routine of jotting down a few things you are grateful each day can dramatically improve your overall outlook, make you more appreciative of what you do have and alleviate yourself of any self-imposed pressures.

For more on The Resilience Project visit