Be an Optimist in This Time of Pessimism: Change Your Point of View

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"Two men (people) look out through the same window: One sees the mud, and one sees the stars."- Frederick Langbridge, A Cluster of Quiet Thoughts

If you finish second place for a sought-after position, will you jump for joy and retool for a better outcome the next time or will you be discouraged and find an excuse not to pursue another position in the future?

In life, we are always faced with choices. We can opt to have a pessimist's view and live a self-defeated life or we can decide to take the optimist's point of view and live a challenging and fulfilling life. We must refuse to be defeated no matter the circumstance.

So why adopt an optimist's point of view? And why now at this stage of life?

Optimism has been linked to positive mood and good morale; to academic, athletic, military, occupational and political success; to popularity; to good health and even to long life and self-determination to best one can be.

We live in a time when the state of depression and pessimism is at an all-time high. The media feeds us a daily dose of doom and gloom which contributes to the pessimistic mindset. I recall coming to the train stop on the way to work the morning after the last presidential election, you would have thought the world was coming to an end. People were in a state of gloom as if their hopes, dreams and aspirations depended on who became president. Unfortunately, many still feel that way.

Here's how optimists are in action and research that back up why it pays to be an optimist:

Optimists tend to get the best out of life because they expect the best.

The defining characteristic of pessimists is that they tend to believe the worst, which will last a long time and undermine everything they do. They have very little belief in their ability to take control of the situation.

Optimists are challenged with the same hard knocks of this world. What differs is the way they explain their setbacks ---it's the opposite way. They tend to believe defeat is just a temporary setback, that its impact is limited and doesn't control their ultimate success. 

Optimists prefer to focus on and plan for the 'problem' at hand. They have a way of reframing the issue. In other words, they often turn a negative experience into an opportunity to help them learn and grow. These kinds of people are unfazed by bad situations, they view it is a challenge and understand they will have to work harder.

Optimists are very much in tune with the conversations they have with themselves and others. You are unlikely to hear them say "things will never get better," "If I failed once, it will happen again" and "It's over, my whole world is lost."

A positive mindset lead optimist to expect the best when faced with new situations, unforeseen tragedies and unlikely turn of events. It doesn't mean they have all the answers or won't fall short. If they fall, they simply pick themselves up. They see opportunities instead of obstacles.

People respond positively to optimists.

Optimists are proactive and less dependent on others for their happiness. They don't have a need to be validated by others. Also, they find no need to control or manipulate people. They have a way of drawing people towards them. Their optimistic view of the world can be contagious and influence those they are with.

Optimism seems a positive influence be it at home, work or play. Those who share optimism are generally accepted while those who spread gloom, panic, and uncertainty are shied away from.

Remember back in high school, the optimistic people were often the most popular; got voted most congenial and sought for information. At work, they tend to be the people given the best assignments and promotional opportunities.

When the going gets tough, optimists find a way to make it happen. They won't allow any situation to hold them back. They are not afraid to pursue the unknown.

Choose wisely your partner in battle.

Optimists typically maintain higher levels of personal 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 or by avoiding dealing with problems. Pessimists are more likely to quit trying when difficulties arise because they can't see a way out. Optimist realizes it's going to be a tough battle and commit to keeping on fighting even when the end results are uncertain.

They persevere. They just don't give up easily, they are also known for their patience. Inching their way, a step closer to that goal or elusive dream.

Optimists tend to be healthier and live longer.

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

Optimists' health is unusually good. They age well, finding themselves much more likely to be free from medical problems as they get older. And they tend to live longer than those prone to negative thoughts.

Like everybody else, you are bound to hit lows sometimes and make mistakes but don't just stay there. Pick yourself up from the mud and improve your chances of getting back on the right track. Let your actions inspire others to remove their dark-colored glasses and see life on the bright side.

Look forward to success in all your endeavors. Be resilient in all you do.

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