A to Z of Happiness: O - Optimism #atozchallenge @AprilA2Z

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.

What Is Optimism?

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! 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. (Covered under 'R'.)

Optimism Improves Our Health.

Research has shown that optimism has a positive effect on our physical and mental WELL-BEING. (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, or "put in the effort", as we call it. In short, it makes us look at all our relationships with LOVE (covered under 'L'), including the one with our self.

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 A to Z of Happiness.

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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Want to Add Something?

mocktail mommies said...

Optimism never dies and pessimism is dead even before it is born.
Very articulate post!
Anagha From Team MocktailMommies
Collage Of Life

Meal to the Heart said...

like others i also get detached soon after any failure, but then i want to be alone and analyse my shortcomings . prepare myself with positive thinking and with a mode that i can do it
Interesting post, enjoyed a lot
Thanks for sharing
Dr Bushra
Do visit mineO for Opt for Quitting Smoking during Pregnancy

Shilpa Garg said...

Saggis are born optimists and I am one. During trying times, I always remind myself that "Everything will be okay in the end. If it's not okay, it's not the end"

Anonymous said...

Optimism is a great tool. “Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.” – Helen Keller

Thanks visiting my post: O for Occupation

Emily Bloomquist said...

Good post, Chicky. As I suspect most optimists do, I fight the pessimist in my head frequently to allow optimism to rule. Not always easy as the pessimist has so many things to say.

Emily | My Life In Ecuador | Post-Earthquake makeshift camps

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Chicky - I definitely am of the Optimistic sort ... and tend to be happy or get away from difficulties ... cheers Hilary


Vinodini Iyer said...

Three cheers to optimism! I don't have a lot of patience with pessimists. Wonder how they survive all that negativity.

Chicky Kadambari said...

That is an apt quote, Anagha! Thank you :)

Chicky Kadambari said...

That's a good approach, Dr. Bushra. I guess we all need a little time for introspection every now and then.

Chicky Kadambari said...

They are, Shilpa... and I so envy them this quality! :P

Chicky Kadambari said...

Very true, Shari. Thanks for sharing that quote! :)

Chicky Kadambari said...

Oh yes, Emily! For some of us, the pessimist inside is louder and more verbal! Thank you :)

Chicky Kadambari said...

You look like an optimist, Hilary... in this tiny profile pic here! :D

Chicky Kadambari said...

By constantly battling against their inner pessimist, Vinodini! (Sighhhh!)

Vinitha Dileep said...

To live we need to be optimistic. Otherwise we are just wasting our time worrying and filling our minds with negative thoughts. I try to stay positive all the time. My favorite quire is" where there is a will, there is a way." Gives me strength during difficult times.
All the best for AtoZ, Chicky.

Sara C. Snider said...

Interesting post. I think I've always thought of myself as a pessimist, but I don't think it's entirely true. I think in terms of things related to myself, I'm an optimist (my writing endeavors, diet, health, etc). But in relation to other people, particularly strangers, I'm probably a pessimist. I think I expect the worst from others. :/

A to Z 2017: Magical and Medicinal Herbs

Sreesha Divakaran said...

Well, I think to some extent I'm a pessimist. It's because that file in my head, the one about the things that could go wrong, is just too heavy that I have to fight to keep even a shred of hope alive in situations :P

Rajlakshmi said...

Optimistic people are positive souls, they are the best people to be around with, specially when you at nervous or worried. There's always an air of happiness around them.

roj said...

Optimism is something which i have always had in my lilfe. though there are many situations when we lose hope but clinging on to hope rescues you

Pikakshi Manchanda said...

Very nicely put together post! I liked how objectively approached all points under optimism and pessimism. Well, by default I'm somewhere in the pessimism zone. But I tend to use it to my advantage. I am, as you said, a self critic, and constantly try to better myself and make the best of the situation. Maybe its semi optimism as well. Technicalities, as they say :) Thanks for sharing!


Readers of the Night

Chicky Kadambari said...

Oh yes, Vinitha. It most certainly is a waste of time!
Thank you for stopping by :)

Chicky Kadambari said...

That's an interesting way to put it, Sara! I agree with you... it is best to be a bit cautious when it comes to strangers. Happy AtoZing! :)

Chicky Kadambari said...

Hahaha! It sure does get too heavy for me too at times, Sreesha! I find it easier to bear with it when I'm too busy with things.

Chicky Kadambari said...

Oh I know, Raji! That's why I love being friends with you! :P :D

Chicky Kadambari said...

True, roj. Sometimes, it is difficult to find hope. Thank you for visiting! :)

Chicky Kadambari said...

Yes, that is an advantage of being pessimistic. We are constantly trying to improve ourselves! :D
Thank you for stopping by, Pikakshi. :)

Suzy said...

Love the quote optimism is not about facts but possibilities, That summed it up very nicely for me.

Suzy at Someday Somewhere - Quieting the mind

Chicky Kadambari said...

It's so true, isn't it, Suzy? :D

Sanch Writes said...

Sigh...as much as I know the benefits of being optimistic, it's one of the hardest things for me. I'm by nature a cynic and pessimist. Part of my Flourish Inside Out challenge this year was to develop my optimism and positive emotions further but I'll be honest I'm still struggling.

Chicky Kadambari said...

Take your time, Sanch. Read Osho maybe. I kind of like his books. Even though he's very repetitive in them.

Menaka Bharathi said...

Impressive as usual Kadambary! I am one optimistic person and most often I feel that is what is keeping me going ahead!

Chicky Kadambari said...

Hi Menaka. Being optimistic is better in all ways actually. In fact, that really is what keeps us going. Otherwise, we become stuck at one place.

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