Optimism is expecting good to happen, a tendency to look on the bright side of events or conditions, and to expect the best outcome. Optimism is a belief that good ultimately predominates over evil in the world. So, are you optimistic? If you are, that’s the best news, however, if you favor the negative and you want to live a long and happy life, you might want to change that up a bit.
This might sound simplistic or obvious, however, you would be amazed at how many people I meet that have a pessimistic (the opposite of optimistic), attitude. They always complain about something! You can pick these people a mile off, they enter the room fast and furious, and they are not self-aware, they probably won’t be particularly interested in anyone else except themselves. I’ve learned to change my greeting with these sorts of people to…..’ what’s the best thing that has happened to you so far this morning, or today?’
When you ask a question like that, you force the person you are asking to visit another part of their brain, to think about what is going on that is good. The pessimistic soul will take a while to tell you something that is working for them or that’s good, the positive person will answer this in lightning speed because they have much to be grateful for!
Our common greeting, of ‘How are you‘ to a negative person is asking for trouble! They are going to answer several ways; ‘not bad for a Monday or whatever day it is,’ or ‘not good’, or worse tell you chapter and verse about their latest drama, or mercifully and rarely they will reply ‘Good thanks’, even though they are in pain or just buried their family pet. This automated way of being, where thoughts and replies become lazy because for the pessimistic soul, it’s too hard to think of any other way!
This consciousness needs an overhaul, and the way you do that is to first think about your own need to be the one who has to ‘speak all the time, to dominate a conversation or to offer an opinion.’ Think about your words, as when you speak out your words your biology is listening. If I am in a conversation with someone who is clearly in the ‘me zone‘ or ‘woe is me zone’ I remind myself of Wayne Dwyer’s beautiful words…
‘if you have a choice between being kind or right, always choose kind.’
This one takes some discipline and humbleness, especially if you know you are right however, there is much to be gained by keeping your mouth shut and just letting the other person spout off. Ask them questions, let them answer and they will dig their own grave, you don’t need to add dirt to the coffin, just take it all in and remind yourself that this person has their pain… My other favorite saying is,
‘be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting their own battle.’ plato.
If you are lucky enough to have a conversation with someone optimistic, you should leave that conversation feeling better about yourself and the world. Kindness is like the sperm that meets the egg, and the egg being ‘life’ gives birth to ‘optimism’.
Let me share with you, that the chemistry of anticipating something good on the horizon is far better than expecting something bad. An optimistic person is more alkaline, and creates the chemistry of interleukin and interferrons, powerful cancer-fighting drugs, whereas, being fearful and expecting the worst creates a chemistry of acidity, adrenalin, and cortisol, which creates the chemistry of disease deep within the body.
Researchers from Boston and Harvard found that individuals with greater optimism are more likely to live longer and to achieve “exceptional longevity,” that is, living to ages beyond their 80’s, 90’s, and even 100! In good health! Their definition, “Optimism refers to a general expectation that good things will happen or believing that the future will be favorable because we can control important outcomes.”
Monash University’s Dr. Heather Craig and her fellow researchers recently wrote, “Optimism, broadly speaking, refers to an individual’s hopefulness and or their belief that something positive or desirable will happen– ‘anticipating good’, and having a positive view of the past, whilst a pessimist expects the worst.
Admiral James Stockdale.
Stockdale was a pilot whose fighter jet was shot down during the Vietnam War, and he became the most senior naval officer held captive in Hanoi, North Vietnam. Years later, Good to Great author Jim Collins asked Stockdale how he coped as a POW, and Stockdale described a fascinating paradox that involved attitude. Prisoners who were unable to balance reality with their optimism had a much harder time, he said, because they were continually disappointed when their hopes weren’t realized.
“You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end — which you can never afford to lose — with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be,” Stockdale said.
It reminds me of a quote often attributed to motivational speaker William Arthur Ward:
“The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.”
This attitude of ‘everything is going to be alright‘ has nine times out of ten, served me well over the years, however when I have gone off the rails, with the way I’m thinking, it’s interesting how quickly circumstances can and do turn to pulp. So here’s a guide to check your optimism compass, and I’m asking myself the same questions.
Ask yourself these 3 questions when you do find yourself slipping. Put yourself back into optimism quickly and good things really will come your way. Here are my questions.
- Is How I’m feeling right now the best way I can think/feel?
- Can I change the situation? And If so….
- What is stopping me from changing my thoughts/situation?
Focus on those 3 questions. Work through your thoughts, journal them if that helps you, and choose to look at the good in every situation. If you are going through a difficult time, this soon will pass.
I reflect to the moment I was told that I would have to go into Hotel Quarantine. In those first few seconds, as I was assimulating the reality of 14 days in an unknown environment, I was feeling quite unhappy, fearful even, and traumatized! Then I thought of something good. ‘Wonderful!’, I told myself, I have 14 days to write, I will regain my control over this situation, and make this work for me. I will work on my book, Lifestyle Reset, and the rest is history!
Optimistic people get invited to participate in life.
That should be on a T-shirt!. Go on, make a wonderful day for yourselves. Once again I’d love a comment, here’s a link to the book Lifestyle Reset, The Essential Guide To Healing You and the Planet.