We've all heard of the famous quote by Winston Churchill that "a pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
But, there is also a not-so-popular quote by Marianne Williamson that sums up optimism quite brilliantly. She says - "Children are happy because they don't have a file in their minds called 'All the Things That Could Go Wrong.'"
I think that's all the difference between an optimist and a pessimist.
Optimism is a mental state that expects things to get better, even during times of hardship. It is the belief that negative situations can be transformed into positive ones, and that we HAVE enough control over our lives to shape it in whatever manner we choose to.
While pessimism would have us believe that every little mistake or obstacle is "THE END", optimism lets us see it for what it actually is, and motivates us to find solutions and better ways of doing that task.
Both pessimism and optimism are ways of thinking though, and not a permanent part of our personality. It means that we can CHOOSE to be either of them - a pessimist or an optimist. Our experiences during our growing-up years do tend to shape our inclination towards one of them, but it doesn't mean we are "hard-wired" and cannot change. And I know this from personal experience.
Why then should we choose to be optimistic rather than pessimistic?
Research has shown that optimism offers a lot more benefits than pessimism, in practically all areas of life, and ultimately, all these differences add up to making us happier individuals. Here are some of those benefits discussed in detail.
How Does Optimism Lead To Happiness?
Optimism Keeps Us Detached From Negativity.
If you are an optimist by default, then you wouldn't know how a pessimist thinks. I do, because I am one. Pessimists blame themselves for everything. Even if someone else is being a jerk, our first instinct is to see what we did wrong! Remember that "inner-critic" we discussed under DISREGARD (covered under 'D')? That inner-critic is especially loud and active in our cases. Add to it a critical environment too, and that's it. You'll never get us to do anything! I've learnt that adopting an optimistic way of thinking is the best way to remain unaffected by both the inner as well as outer demons.
Optimism Makes Us Hopeful.
While pessimism is rooted in our own lack of self worth, optimism is the belief that we have the ability to change things around us. Optimism is the feeling of "empowerment", as against the "helplessness" of pessimism. Optimism fulfills two out of the three HOPE postulates of Snyder (covered under 'H') - 1. Agency and 2. Pathways.
Optimism Prevents Us From Quitting.
Pessimistic people think along the lines of "This well never work!", "What's the use?", "I'm destined to be doomed!" They quit very quickly, be it a new diet plan, or a new exercise schedule, or jobs, or relationships... you name it! (This is my default setting, by the way.) Whereas optimistic people bounce back more easily from setbacks and disappointments. "It didn't work out today. Maybe I'll have better luck next time!" That's how they think. In short, optimism makes us more RESILIENT. (Will be covered under 'R'.)
Optimism Improves Our Health.
Research has shown that optimism has a positive effect on our physical and mental WELL-BEING. (Will be covered under 'W'.) It gives us a stronger immune system and helps us recover from illness more quickly and completely. It also makes us less prone to anxiety and depression. Besides, people with optimistic way of thinking naturally make healthier lifestyle choices, because they believe that they have control over their health.
Optimism Helps Us Maintain Good Relationships.
Optimistic people are mentally and emotionally better equipped to dealing with relationship challenges. They are more willing to give things another shot and try other ways of interacting. They are also more open to working upon themselves. Pessimism makes us withdraw from people, but optimism encourages us to go out and patch things up. In short, "put in the effort".
With so many benefits, it only makes sense to inculcate a mindset of optimism. I have realized that the "shift" happens when we take control of our own life. When our thought process changes from "there is nothing that I can do about this" to "what can I do to make this better". That is the point of transformation from pessimism to optimism.
What is your default state of mind - pessimism or optimism? What tactics do you use to get out of pessimistic situations and recharge your "hope meters"?
This is my 15th post for AtoZ2017.
I have completed this challenge once before, and published it as a kindle ebook.
You can get it on amazon: A to Z of Blogging: Take Your Blog To the Next Level.
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