Netflix

Kimmy Schmidt is unbreakable: Even after being held hostage in an underground bunker for 15 years, she still sees the¬†world as a joyous fairyland. Some people might consider her¬†unwavering optimism na√Įvet√©, but science views¬†it as something else: the secret to happiness.

For the uninitiated: Kimmy, played by the adorable Ellie Kemper, is the star of Tina Fey's new comedy,The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. The series' first season was just released on Netflix and has critics gushing, calling it everything from "perfect," to "30 Rock funny." (And it is. It really is.)

Equally notable, the character is a beacon of positivity in a sea of disturbed television anti-heroes. We could all learn a thing or two from her approach to life, as the research below suggests. Caution: Spoilers abound.

1. Kimmy doesn't play it safe

Advertisement

The scene: After being rescued from a doomsday cult, Kimmy and her fellow¬†"mole women" fly¬†to New York City to be interviewed by Matt Lauer¬†on Today. After¬†her appearance, instead of¬†heading back to Indiana, Kimmy jumps out of an airport shuttle¬†in the middle of the Big Apple and decides to stay‚ÄĒwith nothing more than a purple backpack and a smile.

The science:¬†In a 2005 study,¬†German researchers interviewed 20,000 people about their risk-taking habits. They found that¬†participants who were more willing to take chances were more satisfied in life. They weren't able to determine which came first‚ÄĒthe risk-taking or the feeling of contentment‚ÄĒbut the correlation was clear.

2. Kimmy sees the glass as half full

Advertisement

The scene: Kimmy's new apartment is literally¬†the size of a closet‚ÄĒbecause it is a closet. What most people would see as a joke, Kimmy sees as freedom, exclaiming "My own window!"

The science: Research has shown cultivating optimism is not only good for your health, it can also lead to a happier, wealthier life: A study of 6,000 men and women found that staying optimistic helped reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, and another study  found that optimists have better relationships, make more money, and are generally happier.

3. Kimmy is resilient

The scene: When Kimmy's "black and gay and bald and poor" new roommate, Titus, tells her to pack her things and move back to Indiana, she refuses (thanks to a rat she sees in a trashcan‚ÄĒlong story). Instead, she finds her roomie in Times Square and gives him the speech to end all speeches: "Life beats you up," she tells him. ‚ÄúYou can either curl up in a ball and die‚Ķ or you can stand up and say we‚Äôre different. We‚Äôre the strong ones, and you can‚Äôt break us!‚ÄĚ

Advertisement

The science: Studies have shown that happiness and resilience are linked. Specifically, those who manage to stay emotionally resilient in the face of adversity end up happier over time. Researchers have also found that resilient people harness positive emotions to "bounce back" successful from stressful situations and avoid depression after tragedy.

4. Kimmy takes criticism like a champ

The scene: When Kimmy is criticized by her boss over a botched birthday party, her reaction is: I can do better. Doesn't matter that her boss is a nut-job who makes completely unreasonable demands.

Advertisement

The science: While many of us get defensive when called out for mishaps we feel are outside our control‚ÄĒor quit‚ÄĒstudies suggest Kimmy has the right attitude. In 2013, researchers analyzed how 3,600 individuals responded to criticism from their boss. Turns out those who can take and learn from criticism (rather than make excuses) are happier in the workplace and have higher levels of self-esteem.

5. Kimmy sets small goals in order to reach bigger ones

Advertisement

The scene: Kimmy's favorite motto is that anyone can do anything for 10 seconds (even turning a heavy "mystery crank" in an underground apocalypse bunker). Her theory is that, at the end of 10 seconds, you've inched closer to toward your larger goal.

The science: Kimmy knows what business leaders have known for years‚ÄĒthat setting small, realistic goals can pave the path to success. When we¬†break¬†big¬†goals into smaller ones,¬†we feel a sense of accomplishment¬†with every milestone¬†along the way, boosting our motivation.

6. Kimmy understands the power of friendship

The scene: With so much on her mind (being kidnapped, not knowing any TV shows past the 90s, having no money), Kimmy is desperate for someone to talk to‚ÄĒsomeone who won't judge her for being different. And even though she¬†gets stuck with a super old guy who's still afraid Nazis, she has the right idea in searching for a confidante.

Advertisement

The science:¬†An Australian study that followed 1,500 people for 10 years found that¬†having good friends helps¬†people live longer. Those with a large support network outlived those with the fewest friends by a significant¬†22 percent. Another¬†major study, this one from UCLA, found that when women reached out to friends during an emotional crisis, they coped better. One explanation (among many) is that the friendships triggered¬†oxytocin‚ÄĒthe feel-good bonding hormone‚ÄĒin the body, reducing women's cortisol levels and combating stress.

7. Kimmy is thrify

The scene: Kimmy¬†advises¬†her roommate, Titus, who dreams of becoming a Broadway star, to sell his Iron Man costume to pay for¬†head shots‚ÄĒa much better choice than going into debt for them.

Advertisement

The science: Studies have shown that couples who are thrifty with their money are happier and have better marriages. Granted, Kimmy and Titus aren't married, but they do live together and share expenses.

Taryn Hillin is Fusion's love and sex writer, with a large focus on the science of relationships. She also loves dogs, Bourbon barrel-aged beers and popcorn ‚ÄĒ not necessarily in that order.