Few things in the world are more powerful than a positive push. A smile. A world of optimism and hope. A ‘you can do it’ when things are tough.
-Richard M. Devos
One of the leaders of positive psychology comes from Doctor Martin Seligman. He did a lot of research on how optimism works and he also looked at the effect of optimism in all areas of life including business, career, social and our private lives. He really broke down optimism and looked at all the variables in why optimism is so important for success. He found that people who are more optimistic are simply much more successful in life. If you are interested in his work he published his work in a book called Learned Optimism.
The reason why optimism is so crucial to success is because it allows you to be persistent in the things you do. You are able to see the light at the end of the tunnel so to speak while the pessimist only sees darkness. Think about why people quit anything. It’s really 100% of the time, pessimistic behavior. They don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, instead of after failing ten times all they can think about is failure while an optimist will tell themselves that this eleventh try will be the winner. More often than not, that one more try is what separates success from failure.
There are specific ways on how optimists think compared to others. Say something bad happens; let’s take for example that you get locked out of your apartment. A pretty bad situation that even an optimist wouldn’t want to be in.
What an optimist would do compared to a pessimist is ask himself is this problem permanent? Will you be locked out forever? Probably not. You can call your landlord, live at a buddy’s house or even call 911. So you have options. The reality is you won’t be locked out forever so this is a temporary problem that will be solved eventually. You do have something to look forward to.
But let’s say none of those options are valid options. You don’t have a landlord, you live in a house. Staying with a friend won’t get you in your house, and maybe you don’t want to call 911 because you simply didn’t think of that since it is not really an emergency. You can still call a locksmith, maybe unscrew a doorknob or if all fails you can break a window.
Basically, an optimist will think how am I going to get in? He will find these other solutions while a pessimist will simply say what am I going to do? I can’t believe this happened! I’m so stupid! All this negativity and emotional thinking that does not solve the problem. The reality is most problems we get into are not permanent problems and realizing this alone will take a lot of the burden off our shoulders.
The other way optimists tend to think is how pervasive is the problem? How much will this problem affect my life? Will getting locked out of your home really affect your life that much? You will most likely get in eventually; it would be very unrealistic to reach the conclusion that you have to find a new home because you locked yourself out.
This is another mindset that optimists have. Start to look for areas in your life that an event does not affect. If you are locked out you will still have your health, money, relationships, home and whatever. There are not many things in this world that will ruin your entire life. Let’s take a better, more pervasive example. Say you get fired from your job. Something which can affect many areas of your life.
We all know what the optimist would do at this point. He would say “I will find another job”. Simple. Of course, a situation like this trying to remain optimistic may be a little more difficult but there is always something good coming out of anything. But the point is, after being fired from a job would the optimist who believes that he will find another job be less or more successful
then the pessimist who kicks himself, blames himself for losing the job?
The last one is personalization. An optimist will not take credit for bad events but take credits for good things that happen. If an optimist gets locked out he would go, oh well, it happens to all of us. I dropped my keys while I was walking there is no way I could’ve known that. A pessimist would say “How could I be so stupid!” and only think about the things he should have done.
In contrast, if a good thing happens, say a promotion at work an optimist would immediately take credit for that. He would say that was me. I deserved this. I worked hard for this and it paid off. A pessimist may not take full responsibility. He would go well…I had some help. Or well…I just got lucky, George deserves the promotion much more than me.
The problem here is that an optimist is more invested in the positive stuff. He is looking for the positive things in his life and he is attaching himself to those things. A negative person is actually looking for negative things and attaching himself to those things. Like attracts like. Most of the time the pessimist doesn’t even realize this is happening. It has a lot to do with our RAS and what our subconscious looks for based on our own self-image.
So how about you? How optimistic are you? Do you resonate with any of these? All of these? Where do you see yourself in a year? In a month? Somewhere good? I hope so, if not you may need to work on your optimism. This is simple to solve. Simply writing down the things you are excited about for the future will make you more optimistic. While writing, think about how you feel, you should feel excited and most importantly optimistic!
Have a great day!
If you have any questions or concerns feel free to leave them below!