Born To Be An Optimist?
“The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty “ – Winston Churchill
An optimist, when faced with a problem, tends to find the upside to the situation and starts figuring out ways to solve the problem or turn it around. A pessimist, on the other hand, immediately throws up their hands, and yells, “That’s it; it’s all over. I can’t handle this anymore.” They distance themselves from the problem, pretending it doesn’t matter. This is denial, and it never works.
According to Dr Martin Seligman, the world’s foremost expert on optimism, everyone is born optimistic. However, as adults, 95% of us become pessimists, not optimists. What goes wrong? Some people see the glass as half empty, while others see it as half full. But is it really as simple as that? Is it possible to be a bit of both?
When you think about it, most people tend to be optimists sometimes and pessimists other times. Ironically, many times things turn out according to how we feel about the situation. If a person feels optimistic about something, it usually goes well. The same is true of the reverse. When someone expects things to go badly, they often do.
A clear indication that you are dealing with a pessimist is a simple phrase they often use in stressful situations – “I can’t”. The pessimist feels helpless and powerless, and it shows in their response. In contrast, the optimist responds with “I won’t”. The optimist is making a conscious choice, not just reacting.
An optimist prefers to think more positively. They focus on what they truly want, not what might happen to them.
Consider the following statements:
- Optimists achieve their goals because they never give up.
- Optimists naturally attract success.
- Optimists are happier, healthier and more energetic than pessimists.
- Optimists are easier to be around, inspiring others to be positive.
- Optimists live longer and suffer from fewer and less severe diseases.
- Besides the above, optimists lead a higher quality of life.
These statements are likely true because optimists’ positive thinking makes challenging situations “not that bad” after all.
True optimism is not simply sitting back, thinking positive thoughts, and hoping everything will turn out all right. It’s about how you see the world, choosing to view it positively rather than negatively. You face each situation, each problem, and each occasion with a positive attitude, always looking forward to the “benefits” you will derive from it. You have a choice. As Norman Vincent said, “Change your thoughts and change your world.” Your attitude is within your control. If you choose pessimism, you’re choosing to see the downside of every situation, unfairly judging people, and living unhappily for the rest of your life. What an oppressive existence!
On the other hand, if you choose optimism, you empower yourself to see the positive side of each challenge, see the good in people, and help them see the good in life too. You take action to improve your own life and live happily with caring friends and family. You attract all that is good to yourself.
Choosing to be more optimistic and positive doesn’t mean you won’t encounter difficult times, trauma, loss, and many challenges. What it does mean is that you will have more resilience to help you through those tough times. You’ll bounce back faster and make better choices instead of letting life wash over you. You’ll learn to be proactive instead of reactive.
If you’re not naturally optimistic and positive, don’t worry. You can learn how to use your thoughts to change your attitude and emotions. It won’t be easy, and some days will be very challenging, but you can do it. Improving your optimism levels is one of the most important actions you can take to improve your life. It doesn’t come automatically; it takes effort. It takes deliberate, conscious awareness of your thoughts and feelings. And then acting on that awareness.
Each time a negative thought crosses your mind, stop right there and flip it around to find the positive aspect of the situation. Repeat this practice consistently and build on it. Eventually, it will become a habit to approach life with positivity and optimism.
Grant yourself permission to entertain new thoughts and embrace new emotions.
So I say to you: Be optimistic! Expect the best out of life! Just think and act with optimism.