Getting the Optimist’s Edge

By Des Menz posted in Work, Life, and Yourself

PART 1 of a 5-part series on personal development, creativity, and innovation, and how to use a series like this for personal advantage and profit.

Two men look out through the same bars: One sees the mud, and one sees the stars.

             Frederick Langbridge, "A Cluster of Quiet Thoughts"


The Challenge of Optimism

Imagine this … you won second place in a writing contest. What would you do? Would you accept coming second as a great result? Would you become energised even more and want to push for better results the next time? Or would you be discouraged and find an excuse not to try again? 

The responses from people will be as varied as their personalities. In life, we are always filled with choices. We can have a pessimistic view and live a self-defeated life, or we may decide to take the optimist’s path and seek a challenging and fulfilling life.

So, why nurture an optimist’s point of view? And why now?

Well, optimism has been linked to positive mood and good morale; to academic, athletic, occupational, and political success; to popularity; to good health and even to long life and freedom from trauma.

Conversely, the rates of depression and pessimism have never been higher all around the world. In some affluent countries it is becoming an epidemic. 

Depression and its various disorders affect middle-aged adults in just the same way it hits younger people. The mean age of depression onset has gone from 30 down to 15. This is a deeply troubling statistic. It is no longer a middle-aged person's disorder, it is a teenager’s problem also.

Being optimistic is not a matter of just flicking a switch. It doesn’t happen that way. But if you are inherently optimistic, then the reality of life is that sometimes there will be challenges to your optimism. 

Here’s an example - our daily news is full to the brim with bad news, death, destruction, wars, invasions, accidents, natural disasters, climate change impacts, and so on. 

Where are the good news stories? Sometimes we have to dig a bit deeper to find those, and they are there somewhere. It’s just that they aren’t the sensational type of story that
the general media seems to constantly focus on.

So, what should we do to find the optimist’s edge in a world that seems to be evolving with ever greater unpredictability?

After all, don't we all want to live our lives with harmony and greater certainty?

Getting The Optimist's Edge 

Here are a number of defining characteristics about being an optimist.

cleanOptimists expect the best

The defining characteristic of pessimists is that they tend to believe that bad events will have a long-lasting impact and that they undermine most of what they do. 

It affects the way they think, the actions they take, and the results they achieve. 
Optimists on the other hand, when confronted with the same hard knocks of this world, are able to explain misfortunes, and confront them head on. They tend to believe defeat is just a temporary setback, that its causes are confined, and that confidence can be easily restored. It is the opposite to what a pessimist would do.

Optimists tend to focus on, and plan for, the 'problem' at hand. In a sense it is called foresighting. They use 'positive reinterpretation.' In other words, they most likely reinterpret a negative experience in a way that helps them learn and grow. Such people are unfazed by bad situations, they perceive it is a challenge and try harder.

They won’t say things will never get better; that’s the mark of a pessimist, who also says that if failure happens once, it will happen again. The pessimist who experiences misfortune, or a series of misfortunes, will eventually get to the point of no return where such misfortunes become a belief that will happen frequently.

The positive outlook of optimists also results in better reactions during transitions to new and unknown environments, sudden tragedies and unlikely turn of events. If they fall, they will stand up again. They see opportunities instead of obstacles. 

cleanPeople respond positively to optimists

Optimists are proactive and less dependent on others for their happiness. They find no need to control or manipulate people. They usually draw people towards them. 

Their optimistic view of the world can be contagious and their influence on those around them also can be very significant. Why do you think successful people surround themselves with optimistic people? 

Optimism is a socially desirable trait in all communities. Those who share optimism are generally accepted while those who spread gloom, panic and hysteria are treated unfavourably. 

In life, these people often win elections, are looked upon as the most congenial and easy to get along with, and are sought out for advice. 

The optimistic person also has much greater consideration for others and for the natural world around them.

cleanWhen the going gets tough, optimists get tougher 

Optimists typically maintain higher levels of subjective well-being during times of stress than do people who are less optimistic. In contrast, pessimists are likely to react to stressful events by denying that they exist, by avoiding dealing with problems, and by showing anger when things don’t go to plan. Pessimists are also more likely to quit when difficulties arise.

Optimists persevere. They just don’t give up easily, and they are also known for their patience. Persisting with finding solutions, or attaining a big goal, are what optimistic people do.

cleanOptimists are healthier and live longer

Medical research has justified that simple pleasures and a positive outlook can cause a measurable increase in the body's ability to fight disease.

Therefore, the overall health of an optimist is consistently good. They age well, and are less prone to usual physical ills of middle age. And they get to outlive those whose lives abound with negative thoughts. If you need proof of this fact, then search online. 

10 Tips To Increase Optimism

Studies have shown that the emotion (maybe it is a characteristic) of optimism can be learned and improved. Be an optimist and think positively towards a more fulfilling life. Look forward to success in all your endeavours. Be resilient. Persevere. Have patience and tolerance.

Daily Routines

1   Be aware of your own negative self-talk

2   Focus on the here-and-now - begin your day with a positive thought or saying

3   Focus on what you can control and let go of what you can't

4   Focus on the positive - record all the good events in your life

5   Embrace the power of positive thinking

6   Be realistic and expect the highs and lows of life

7   Reframe how you define events - turn failures into positive experiences

8   Set and pursue goals - define your big goal and go for it

9   Persevere, persist, never give up

10  Associate yourself with positive people

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Part 2 is about opening up your creative thinking channels

7 Steps To Creative Thinking

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