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Aside

Optimism and Momentum

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Posted in:  MoWord     By:  Dr. Mo

Optimism: Your point of view colours your take on events and situations.  Looking on the bright side, expecting a positive outcome and having confidence in difficult situations are all aspects of Optimism.

Healthy Optimism is a set of beliefs that help to focus your attention and behaviour on the opportunities and possibilities of life.  It’s a lens that allows you to see life realistically and clearly, acknowledging odds and challenges.  It allows you to see opportunities that arise from your challenges and that can result in positive changes in your life.

Healthy Optimism is not to be confused with Unrealistic Optimism, which is like being blind to your experiences and not changing your point of view when the evidence runs counter to your beliefs.  Denial and Unrealistic Optimism are similar to “wishful thinking” and are about assuming the best outcome regardless of the facts of the situation.  For example, in a hostile environment, it is not wise to simply assume the best if you don’t know what’s around the next corner.  There is no reason to believe that this strategy is likely to lead to good outcomes.

On the other hand, Realistic Optimism has been shown to be very effective as a strategy for dealing with situations that can be influenced by one’s attitude.  This is where the facts are not completely clear and where the outcome, or meaning of an event, is open to interpretation.  For example, if your boss doesn’t seem excited to receive a call from you, there may be many possible meanings.  If you make it about you (“He doesn’t want to work with me anymore”), then you are setting yourself up to be upset.  If on the other hand, you interpret his behaviour as being about himself (“He may be really tired after a full day with his kids”), you are less likely to be stressed.

In this second case, you are more likely to respond in a fashion that is in both of your best interests (calmly, with compassion) rather than in a way that is likely to lead to problems (defensiveness, fear).  Realistic optimists maintain Momentum because they understand the difference between making the best of situations and being blind to the facts.

Optimism also greatly influences your personal Momentum in terms of your health, behaviour, happiness and your success.  In fact, research has shown that optimism leads to long term health benefits, greater resistance to disease and greater success in life…more movement forward and upward…more Momentum.

Here is a summary of Healthy Optimistic perspectives that foster Momentum:

We can always make the best of situations.

Every problem can be dealt with.  If you don‘t look for solutions, you won’t find them.

The world is neither fair nor unfair.  It simply is.

While truly difficult situations arise, they do not to happen ‘to you’.  They happen and the experiences ultimately can be viewed as opportunities to learn and grow.

Optimistic beliefs help create many more positive outcomes in life because they help interpret events in a manageable way.

Success is viewed as a result of effort, adaptation, persistence and ability.

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