Is Life A Piece Of Cake Or…
Optimist or not? Which group do you fall into: life is a piece of cake vs life is a sh*t sandwich? Are you one of those people who always look on the bright side or do you hate those who do? Maybe you fall somewhere along the spectrum.
What is optimism and why should you care?
- It can be defined as being hopeful and confident about the future or emphasizing the good parts of a situation. It can also be considered as being open to see possibilities. It’s a willingness to take risks and to look for solutions. It’s not donning rose-tinted specs or wishing for things to change
- Has been linked with better health although of course it’s not going to totally prevent adverse health events. Optimistic people manage their health better. Being optimistic may lead to healthier relationships and coping better with stress.
- Allows you to be creative, it opens you up to new ideas. It allows you to look for the best of all possible worlds. Optimism can help with leadership and optimists are not paralysed by seeking perfection or overanalysing situations.
- Optimism and resilience are interlinked. Resilience (the ability to bounce back) allows you to have a more optimistic perspective. On the other hand, having a healthy self-esteem and being optimistic helps with resilience.
What if you weren’t born an optimist?
Some people are more naturally optimistic. However it is something that can be learned and put into practice. A psychologist, Seligman, turned around how you can go from feeling helpless to being optimistic. One way of doing this is looking at how you manage adversity. As children we are likely to copy the behaviour and attitudes of our parents. If parents or significant others cope poorly e.g are gloomy and anticipate worst case scenarios this is going to affect us.
Seligman describes a detailed process but in a nutshell:
- It is about understanding your beliefs and reactions when something untoward occurs.
- You could pay attention to how you react – one way of doing this might be to keep a journal for a period of time.
- Review what you thought and did. It would be useful to develop alternative thoughts and beliefs e.g if you think “I always expect the worst” or “things never work out” change this to something more balanced.
Try looking for positive aspects in the present and considering what positive outcomes there may be. Be creative, look for partial solutions, come up with new ideas. Notice what language and behaviour optimistic people use and notice yours. Being happier and healthier is something we all aspire to. So, it can’t hurt to be more optimistic.
If you want to discover more about living an optimistic life, email me firstname.lastname@example.org