Many people think that optimism comes about by simply thinking positive thoughts. This is simply not accurate. Simply thinking positive thoughts will not make your problems disappear. It’s simplistic and disrespectful to the complexities of the human experience. For example, what does that say to people who get a debilitating disease?
“Well, now that you’re ill, you should feel guilty about having the disease. You probably weren’t thinking the right thoughts, that’s why you’re sick”?
Should we tell people who work for a corporation that has suffered a six-billion-dollar loss and is laying off 20,000 employees that if they just believe in themselves, they’ll thrive? The implied message here is that if life isn’t working out for these individuals, they’re just not believing in themselves hard enough. This isn’t optimism. It’s insanity.
People who go around thinking that life is always going to go their way if they think positive thoughts aren’t optimists—-their idiots. A true optimist wakes up thinking, “Anything could happen today–good or bad. And whatever happens, I can deal with it.” They don’t ignore the pitfalls of life, but rather, understand that they exist–and then don’t obsess over them. Optimists take detours around the pitfalls and keep themselves focused on a possible pleasant outcome. They’re not in denial; if they feel an unfamiliar lump in their breast, they immediately make an appointment with a doctor. But where a pessimist might use that discovery as an opportunity to stop engaging in life and sink into a narcissistic obsession over how their life is about to end and how things never go their way, the optimist goes about their business–staying engaged in day-to-day activities, and thinking through the possible outcomes of the discovery as well as the negative ones.
Being optimistic also allows you to feel a certain degree of control around your life. Even though it may be an illusion.It allows them to act in ways that might give them the outcome they hope for. In fact studies suggest that reality may be overrated. Try to look at life’s ups and downs as challenges that you are capable of handling. Making them worse than they are takes a lot of energy. Think of how much of your life you’ve already survived! We are so much more resilient then we could ever imagine! I come from a long line of pessimistic women, and I have often struggled not to get into my “henny penny the sky is falling” I was fortunate to get into a field that has shown me that I shouldn’t believe everything I think. And neither should you!
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