Some people seem to be just naturally optimistic. I have been lucky to have some close friends who are like that. Optimism seems to be a natural part of their personalities. I have learned from them.
My own family tended to be what President Reagan used to call “doomers and gloomers”. But that was only a tendency. We were always inclined to believe that our efforts could change things for the better. Like us, most people are a mix of optimist and pessimist.
My experience and my reading of the scientific research on optimism versus pessimism has convinced me that it is a good idea for most of us to be less pessimistic and more optimistic. Especially to be less pessimistic, but more optimistic is good too. It’s really more than a good idea; it can have a major impact on your happiness, health, and success.
The important question is how do we change in the direction of optimism?
There is a lot of published research on this, and it is encouraging. Here is our take on the most promising ways to become less pessimistic and more optimistic.
- Direct your attention to things that have gone well for you.
- When you interpret things in ways that discourage you, seriously consider other, more positive ways to interpret what happened.
- When pessimistic thoughts come to mind, view them with suspicion and strongly challenge them.
- When your efforts produce bad results, be wary if you attribute the results to causes that are very difficult or even impossible to change.
Changing these aspects of how you deploy your mind is not easy. The way you do it now is probably based on powerful motivations and long experience. So we have to consider how to change mental patterns that are deeply ingrained. We will do that in our next post.