Take an honest look at
your personality. Are you a pessimist or an optimist? When the clouds of concern sweep
into your emotional life, do you look down and complain about them? Or do you search the
clouds for the silver lining of opportunity. There have been some interesting studies done
concerning these two personality types. Researchers have found that people who are
pessimistic are generally more realistic about life than their optimistic sisters and
brothers. Optimists tend to gloss over obstacles and minimize problems. They don't
create a balanced picture of circumstances. They also tend to idealize situations
However, optimists are
generally more successful and accomplish much more than their pessimistic siblings-in
spite of their lack of objectivity. The reason for this is that the optimist ignores some
of the negative facts and weighs the positive aspects of the situation more heavily. They
tend to accomplish things that their pessimistic friends don't even attempt. In fact,
they often accomplish the seemingly impossible.
These studies present each
of us with a very important choice between being optimistic or pessimistic. Which will it
be for you? If you want to be more optimistic, this column contains some suggestions to
revitalize your positive predisposition.
Remember what Henry Ford said, "You
can believe you can, or you can believe you can't, either way you will be
correct." Ford understood more than just how to make cars. He saw that the way we
view life determines its outcome. Psychologists call this phenomenon the self-fulfilling
prophecy. If you think something will work, you will try possibilities until you find the
solution. Obviously, if you think your efforts are doomed to failure, you will quickly
quit after an initial failed attempt.
Make life a game. Take a problem and
make it into a contest like the Super-Bowl. If you need to further your education, make
that burdensome task into a game. Frame your response to that goal in terms of you against
an opponent. Next, design a game plan that will bring you victory over the opposition and
then execute that strategy. For example, make studying for a test into your attempt to
score a touchdown. Obviously, there will be struggles and setbacks, but you are going to
win and you know it.
Affirm other optimistic people daily.
This will make you look for them and it will reinforce your positive mental attitude about
life. Associate with people who see an opportunity in every problem. They will become your
support group, and you will become theirs. When you center your life in this manner, your
positive momentum will carry you over the rough spots that might have stalled you before.
Regardless of how optimistic you are, each of us needs a locker room pep talk from time to
time. Associating with optimistic people will benefit you when you might be losing your
optimistic edge. In turn, you will be able to assist them when they are losing theirs.
Push the envelope of opportunity by trying
something that seems just beyond your reach. Make a list of things that you always
believed impossible for you to obtain. Playing the bagpipes is on my list. I've tried
a couple of times to no avail. In my pessimistic mood, I say, "I'm not meant to
play; it is just beyond me." My negative belief seals my fate, and I haven't yet
learned to play them. Not only does this squelch my efforts at learning to play but also
my pessimistic attitude contaminates other areas of my life. However, the converse is
equally true. When we try something new and succeed, we start to build a positive momentum
that will enable us to obtain goals that we once thought were impossible.
Henry Ford was a great
inventor, but he also understood human nature. Remember his caution: "You can believe
you can, or you can believe you can't, either way you will be correct." Take to
heart his admonition, follow these few suggestions, and you will be an optimistic winner