Positive Psychology research has brought to light research on the positive effects of being an optimistic. But it has yet to show us how we can be optimistic. Is optimism a life’s choice or is it a matter of personality? Can anyone be an optimistic or is it just for a few? And is not being an optimist a necessarily bad thing?
Let’s hope we can answer some of these questions and more.
What is Optimism?
In the first place, it’s probably necessary to clarify what is optimism and who can qualify as an optimist. Optimism is not an unrealistic view of reality. It’s a positive mind-set where people choose to focus on what can go right instead of what can go wrong. Nonetheless, optimists can still see the bad things in a situation, but choose to ignore it.
It is a personality trait but it is also a life attitude. Our as someone explained it to me one day, it’s all about the glasses you wear to analyze reality – are they programmed to see the good or the bad?
Am I an Optimist?
Let’s see. Answer these few questions and take your own conclusion:
- When someone asks you “how’s life?” what are the first things that come to mind? The good or the bad ones?
- In a situation where things can either go good or bad, which one do you prefer to believe?
- In a bad situation, do you tend to take a positive lesson out of it? Or do you say things like “it could have been worse” or “luckily we’re all fine”?
- And last but not least, is the glass half full or half empty?
Reasons to become a full-time Optimist
Research says that optimists live longer, recover from illnesses faster, have happier relationships and more fulfilling social lives, suffer from less stress, laugh more, communicate more effectively and are more resilient. And even in potentially negative situations, optimists increase the odds of succeeding. And they are most successful than less optimistic people. Already feeling that you need some optimism pill?
Being an optimist can be a choice, you can train yourself to be more optimistic. But it also can be a personality trait, meaning that being an optimist comes easy for you. If, on the other hand, you’re an incurable pessimist, don’t feel bad. It’s preferable to be a pessimistic than a pessimist hiding under an optimistic mask. What’s is important is to feel good in your own skin.
A few tips on how to develop your optimism
- Make a conscious choice. Start focusing on what can your way or how to make it work.
- Feel good about it. If being an optimistic doesn’t feel right for you, don’t push yourself. There are plenty of healthy and happy pessimists out there.
- Make a mental list of the positive things. When we are looking for it, we eventually find it. If you push your thinking hard enough you’ll start to spot the positive faster than the negative ones or start developing “selective attention” and ignoring most of the negative.
- Problem-solving thinking. An optimistic kind of thinking is a problem-solving kind of attitude. How can we work it out? How can we make the best out of this? What other way is there?
Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/marcelovejar/2350105295