Born To Be An Optimist?

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“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 that problem, or ways to turn it around. A pessimist, however, immediately throws up his hands, and yells, “That’s it; it’s all over. I can’t handle this anymore.” Or he will distance himself from the problem, pretending it doesn’t matter. This is denial, and it never works.

According to the world’s foremost expert on optimism, Dr. Martin Seligman, everyone is born optimistic, yet 95% of grownups are pessimists, not optimists. What goes wrong? Some people see the glass as half empty. Others see it as half full. But is it really as simple as that? Is it possible to be a bit of both?

From my experience, people often can be both. The determining factor is usually based on how we feel about the situation. If a person feels like something will go well or feels optimistic about it, it usually seems to go well. The same is true of the reverse. When someone feels like something will go badly, it tends to do just that.

An indication that you are dealing with a pessimist is in a simple phrase they will use in stressful situations – “I can’t”. The pessimist is helpless, powerless and it shows in his response. The optimist responds with – “I won’t”. The optimist is making a conscious choice, not just reacting.

Benefits of Being an Optimist

An optimist prefers to think more positively. She focuses on what she really wants, not what might happen to her.

Think about the following statements:

  • Optimists achieve their goals because they never give up
  • Optimists attract success naturally
  • Optimists are happier, healthier and more energetic than pessimists
  • Optimists are easier to be around, inspiring people around to be positive
  • Optimists live longer and suffer from fewer and less severe diseases
  • Besides the above, optimists lead higher quality lives

These are all probably true just by the fact that optimists’ positive thinking makes challenging situations “not that bad” after all.

Now true optimism is not sitting back, thinking positive thoughts, and hoping everything will turn out all right. It’s how you see the world, positively rather than negatively. You face each situation, each problem, and each occasion with a positive attitude; and you always look forward to the “benefits” you will derive from it. You have a choice. You can “change your thoughts and change your world,” said Norman Vincent Peale. What it comes down to is that your attitude is a conscious choice. If you choose pessimism, you’re choosing to see the down side of every situation, judge people unfairly, and live unhappily the rest of your life. What an oppressive existence!

How to Become an Optimist

On the other hand, if you choose optimism, you’re empowering yourself to see the positive side of each challenge and the good in people while helping them to see the good in life too. Choosing to be more optimistic and positive does not mean you won’t encounter difficult times, trauma, loss and many challenges. What it does mean is that you will have more power on your side to help you through those tough times. You’ll bounce back faster and make better choices, rather than letting life push you down. 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 doesn’t come automatically, though. It takes effort. It takes deliberate, conscious awareness of your thoughts and feelings. And then acting on that awareness.

Each time you think a negative thought, stop right there and turn it around to find the positive aspect of the situation. Do this each time and build on it. It will become a habit for you to be positive and upbeat about your life. And, if you can’t find the positive in the situation just yet, I like to start with something as simple as “I am loved”. By repeating this to myself, I can shift from negative thoughts to focus on something so much better and more positive.

Give yourself permission to think new thoughts and feel new feelings.

Here’s to being optimistic and expecting the best out of life!

Work With Me

Shifting our mindset is not easy work. We often need others to help us shift to the more positive outlook. You deserve to live with an optimistic mind. When you’re ready to work on those mindset shifts, I’m here. Schedule a time with me to talk about coaching through what’s holding you back.

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