Are you optimistic?

Recently I was giving Harrison feedback (the predictive selection and development assessment I use). I shared the feedback with the client that their Harrison indicated they had a tendency toward optimism. They said, “I think that’s true, I am usually positive and happy.”

There are many who believe positive and happy is optimistic. While optimists tend to be happier and more positive, optimism is about how people explain the good things and bad things that happen in their lives. Optimists tend to explain bad things as temporary and impersonal and they explain good things as a sign of good things to come and personal. Contrary to the argument of some, optimists are not unrealistic nor are they in denial. In fact optimists regularly see life as it actually is. The difference is in how they explain things.

Pessimists explain things exactly the opposite. They see bad things as a sign of bad things to come and are personal. They see good things as temporary and impersonal. Simply put the optimist holds on to the good as hope and releases bad as temporary. Optimism and pessimism has to do with how you explain things not how you FEEL about things. The USA is plagued by rampant negativity and pessimism. Read anyone’s Facebook wall or Twitter Feed. You cannot scroll past more than a few posts before someone is spewing negativity or pessimism. It’s difficult to stay optimistic when people around you struggle to find goodness in the good and limited impact in the bad. Interestingly enough pessimist and optimists tend to have roughly the same amount of good things and bad things happen in their life (over a lifetime). Optimism and pessimism are learned and so pessimists can unlearn and optimists can learn deeper and more consistent patterns of optimism.

Which are you? When bad things happen how do you explain them? Do you see bad things as temporary setbacks destined to get better or do you say things like, “just my luck,” or “why does this keep happening?” When good things happen to you, do you believe they are a sign of good things to come? To what extent are you able to see the pitfalls and shortcomings but see bad as temporary and good as an indication of a bright future? Keep in mind that bad things are temporary and good things may very well be an indication of something other than luck or good fortune.

We need to rise up and generate as much optimism as we possibly can. Eliminate negativity from your life. Do not entertain caustic, energy draining people or circumstances in your life. Be jealous of your time and energy. It’s yours and only yours to control and distribute as you see fit.


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