“The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”Winston Churchill
An optimist, when faced with a problem, tends to find the upside to the situation and starts figuring out ways to solve that problem, or ways to turn it around. A pessimist, however, immediately throws up his hands, and yells, “That’s it; it’s all over. I can’t handle this anymore.” Or he will distance himself from the problem, pretending it doesn’t matter. This is denial, and it never works.
According to the world’s foremost expert on optimism, Dr. Martin Seligman, everyone is born optimistic. And yet, 95% of grownups are pessimists, not optimists. What goes wrong? Some people see the glass as half empty. Others see it as half full. But is it really as simple as that? Is it possible to be a bit of both?
When you think about it, most people tend to be an optimist sometimes and a pessimist other times. Ironically, a lot of times things turn out according to how we feel about the situation. If a person feels like something will go well or feels optimistic about it, it usually seems to go well. The same is true of the reverse. When someone feels like something will go badly, it tends to do just that.
An indication that you are dealing with a pessimist is in a simple phrase they will use in stressful situations – “I can’t”. The pessimist is helpless, powerless and it shows in his response. The optimist responds with – “I won’t”. The optimist is making a conscious choice, not just reacting.
An optimist prefers to think more positively. They focus on what they really want, not what might happen to them.
Think about the following statements:
- Optimists achieve their goals because they never give up
- Optimists attract Success naturally
- Optimists are happier, healthier and more energetic than pessimists
- Optimists are easier to be around, inspiring people around to be positive
- Optimists live longer and suffer from fewer and less severe diseases
- Besides the above, optimists lead higher quality of life.
These are all probably true just by the fact that optimists’ positive thinking makes challenging situations “not that bad” after all.
Now true optimism is not sitting back, thinking positive thoughts, and hoping everything will turn out all right. It’s how you see the world, positively rather than negatively. You face each situation, each problem, and each occasion with a positive attitude; and you always look forward to the “benefits” you will derive from it. You have a choice. “Change your thoughts and change your world,” said Norman Vincent Peale. What it comes down to is that your attitude is a conscious choice. If you choose pessimism, you’re choosing to see the down side of every situation, judge people unfairly, and live unhappily the rest of your life. What an oppressive existence!
On the other hand, if you choose optimism, you’re empowering yourself to see the positive side of each challenge, seeing the good in people, helping them to see the good in life too. Taking action to further improve your own life, and living happily with friends and family who care about you. Attracting all good to yourself. Choosing to be more optimistic and positive does not mean you won’t encounter difficult times, trauma, loss and many challenges. What it does mean is that you will have more power on your side to help you through those tough times. You’ll bounce back faster and make better choices, rather than letting life just wash over you. You’ll learn to be proactive, instead of reactive.
If you’re not naturally optimistic and positive, don’t worry. You can learn how to use your thoughts to change your attitude and emotions. It won’t be easy. Some days will be very challenging, but you can do it. Improving your optimism rates is one of the most important actions you can take to improve your life. It doesn’t come automatically, though. It takes effort. It takes deliberate, conscious awareness of your thoughts and feelings. And then acting on that awareness.
Each time you think a negative thought, stop right there and turn it around to find the positive aspect of the situation. Do this each time and build on it. It will become a habit to be positive and upbeat about your life.
Here’s one starting point:
Practice your ‘positive thinking’ and your ‘positive feeling’. Give yourself permission to think new thoughts and feel new feelings.
You can be as optimistic as you want that you will attract wealth, for that new car or new house. The productive action helps to push things to that end, and you will get there.
So I would say to you: Be Optimistic! Expect the best out of life! Just Think and Act Optimistically.
Burn the Ships
One of the keys to reaching your goals is to eliminate any escape routes. It is tempting to retreat to safety and comfort when challenges and difficulties arise. To avoid turning around and abandoning your goals, you must make going forward more compelling than going back.
When striving towards a goal, you must focus on what you want to obtain and avoid the impulse to go back to what you know and to what is comfortable. When Spanish Conquistador Hernando Cortez landed in Mexico, one of his first orders to his men was to burn the ships. Cortez was committed to his mission and did not want to allow himself or his men the option of going back to Spain. By removing this option, Cortez and his men were forced to focus on how they could make the mission successful.
Eliminating an escape route creates a compelling reason to focus on the goal and to keep moving forward. However, it is important to keep in mind that although Cortez had his men burn the ships, he did not have them burn the food and supplies. Cutting off an escape route to increase motivation and create the desire to press on where you might otherwise give up is totally different from throwing caution to the wind and taking undue risks. Reaching your goals still requires prudent planning and managing. All goals contain a certain degree of risk, but it isn’t necessary to create undue risk and stress by not properly planning and thus lacking the necessary tools and supplies to achieve your goal. Take risks, but don’t be careless or foolish and simply hope that everything will be okay.
Before you decide to burn your ships, make sure you have the supplies and tools necessary to achieve the goal. Something like quitting your job might sound like a good way to close the escape route, but it might also be a fast way to bankruptcy if you don’t have resources to carry you through. Creating a savings account or having a journey job (a job that is a stepping stone to what you really want) allows you to take the risk of leaving your current job without creating undue risk.
Close off the escape routes and make sure that you have a compelling reason to move forward. However, at the same time, make sure that you plan for the risk and have the tools, supplies and resources you need to achieve your goals. You can’t eliminate risk but you can plan for it. Don’t just jump in without thinking through the process and having a solid plan for moving forward.