A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity;
an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.
Think for a moment. If you were to place second in a writing contest, would you be jumping for joy and push yourself for even better results the next time, or would you be discouraged and find an excuse not to join in and try again?
In life, you will always be faced with choices to make. You may choose to have a pessimistic point of view and live a chronically self-defeated life, or you may choose to take the more optimistic route and be rewarded with a more challenging and fulfilling life.
Why you should nurture an optimist’s point of view
Optimism has been linked to positive mood and good morale, to academic, athletic, military, occupational and political success. It has also been linked to popularity, good health, and even to a longer life.
On the other hand, given the current state of affairs in the world, both in the States and abroad, the rates of depression and pessimism have never been higher. Depression affects adults as well as younger people. And, the elderly are affected even more. The most common age of onset of depression has dropped from 30 to 15, and some people are afflicted with periods of depression for their entire lives.
What’s the reward?
Optimists expect the best
The defining characteristic of pessimists is that they tend to believe that bad events will last a very long time and undermine everything they try to do, and that they are usually at the center of the fault.
The truth is that optimists are confronted with the exact same hard knocks of this world. What makes a huge difference is the way in which they explain their misfortune. It’s the total opposite. They tend to believe defeat is just a momentary or temporary setback> they believe that whatever is happening is confined to this one case, and that it is not their fault.
Optimists tend to focus on and plan for the ‘problem’ at hand; the problem right before them. They use ‘positive reinterpretation’ to get through. In other words, they are much more likely to reinterpret a negative experience in a way that helps them learn and grow. Such people are unmoved by a bad situation. They perceive it as a challenge and try harder to overcome it.
They won’t say things that a pessimist would rapidly fall into. You will never catch an optimistic person saying, “Things will never get better,” “If I failed once, I must not be any good at this, so I may as call it quits,” or “If I am experiencing misfortune in this part of my life, then it will spread out into my whole life.”
The positive expectancies of optimists also predict better reactions during transitions to new environments, unexpected tragedies and unlikely turns of events. If they fall, they will stand up again. They see opportunities for growth rather than obstacles that lead to quitting.
People respond positively to optimists
Optimists are proactive and less dependent on other people for their happiness. They do not feel the need to control or manipulate other people. They usually draw people toward them. Their optimistic view of the world can be contagious and influence those people they come into contact with.
Optimism seems to be a socially desirable trait in all communities. Those who share optimism are generally accepted, while those who spread doom and gloom, or panic and hysteria everywhere they go, are treated unfavorably, and often avoided.
When 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 either denying that they exist, or by avoiding dealing with problems head on. Pessimists are more likely to quit trying when life’s difficulties arise.
Optimists persevere. They just don’t give up or give in easily. They are also generally known for their patience, inching their way one step at a time closer to their goal or elusive dream.
Optimists are healthier and live longer
Medical research has shown that simple pleasures and a positive outlook can cause a measurable increase in the body’s ability to fight off disease. Optimists’ health is unusually good. They age well, and are much freer than most people from many of the physical ills of mid-life. And, they get to outlive those prone to negative thoughts.
So why not try being a little more optimist today? And think positively as you move toward a more fulfilled life.
Two men look out through the same bars:
One sees the mud, and one sees the stars.