“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” Winston Churchill
Optimism is a form of Positive Thinking that is focused on the future and how the future will unfold. It helps improve our lives and make us happier. Optimism changes the way we look at and remember our interactions in life because we put a more positive spin on our events and activities. Numerous research studies have confirmed the benefits of optimism which include better health, longer lives, faster recovery from illness, and even healthier babies.
Tali Sherot a leading researcher and teacher of happiness lists three reasons that optimism is a key component of our happiness:
How we interpret events matters. As we go through life, remembering a majority of our interactions with an optimistic and hopeful attitude gives us the feeling we are on the right path and things will work out for us.
- Anticipation enhances our happiness. By thinking optimistically about the future, we get excited about what we think could and will happen. We are as happy during those times of anticipation as we are when the event actually occurs. So our happiness lasts for much longer periods of time if we are optimistic and anticipate good outcomes.
- Optimism makes you try harder. If you believe an event is going to turn out positively, you may be surprised or disappointed when events start taking a negative turn. Consciously or unconsciously, we redouble our efforts to get life back on the right track. As a result, we create better outcomes through efforts we put forth because we are optimistic about the better outcomes.
Optimistic thinkers experience more positive emotions because they explain events in ways that help them feel good about themselves. Pessimistic thinkers take a negative approach and explain events in ways that make them feel worse about themselves. The good news is that pessimism can be replaced with optimism. Pessimistic thinking can be exchanged for optimistic thinking with a little effort and practice.
Some tips for creating optimism in your life:
- Visualize Your Best Possible Self – Visualize a future for yourself in which everything has turned out the way you want it. This can be a short timeframe, like the project is successful and everyone likes it, or a long timeframe, like how your life turns out more fantastic than you could ever imagine.
- Find a pessimistic thought and smash it – Keep a small rock or some other touchstone in your pocket or nearby. Whenever you recognize a pessimistic thought, visualize yourself smashing it with the rock and replacing it with a more optimistic thought.
- Put a quarter in a cup – put a coffee cup on your dresser or desk. Every time you consciously replace a pessimistic thought with an optimistic thought, put a quarter in the cup. When the cup is full, you can use the change to buy yourself a treat. An empty cup reminds you to keep finding ways to choose optimistic thoughts.
“Perpetual Optimism is a Force Multiplier” – Gen. Colin Powell