I touch the silence within myself and know who I am.
Many people, over time, become problem oriented rather than solution oriented, and in their examination and explanation of the problem, they continue the perpetuation of the problem. That which is like unto itself, is drawn—so tell the story you want to live, and you will eventually live it. ~ Abraham
Learn to get in touch with the silence within yourself and know that everything in life has a purpose. ~ Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, M.D.
The Optimistic Perspective
As I wrote, An optimist sees the silver lining no matter the condition. Realty is not denied; it is accepted and looked beyond to possible solutions. Unwanted conditions are used to clarify what is wanted. Optimism focuses on the good. A dictionary definition is “hopefulness and confidence about the future or the success of something.”
An optimist is hopeful and confident about the future or success of something. It’s not an opinion about reality; it’s a starting point for dealing with reality. At every moment, you can decide that you’re in the best situation to handle a given challenge.
It Feels Good . . .
Optimism is a perspective that evokes . . .happiness, love, appreciation, bliss, empowerment, interest, passion, contentment, serenity, clarity, confidence, eagerness, enthusiasm, excitement, inspiration, amusement, or awe…any of the pleasant feeling emotions that indicate your clear alignment with your Source Energy
Optimist and pessimist have different ways of viewing success and failure. Their Explanatory Styles, how they interpret life, are different. Pessimists think of failure as permanent, personal, and pervasive. Optimists see it as temporary, non-personal, and specific. Their view of success is the opposite of their views of failure. A pessimist’s perspective is that success is short term, and accidental. Success to an optimist is long term and global due to commitment and hard work.
Jurriaan Kamp gives the example of a pessimist and an optimist’s response to a poor test score. The pessimist thinks, “I am such a failure. I always do poorly in this subject. I can’t do it right.” The optimist sees the results as related to something outside of her like that specific test was difficult and it is not likely to repeat itself.
The Voice . . . in your head
We all know that voice in our heads. It is like we have a live-in roommate always chattering away about random topics. It is no surprise that an optimists’ self-talk is mostly positive. In fact, they probably have three thoughts that initiate positive emotions for every negative one. Professor Fredrickson has proven and psychologist Elaine Fox, director of the Affective Neuroscience Laboratory in the Department of Psychology at the University of Essex, agrees that we need to have three positive emotions for every negative one in order to thrive, to be truly happy and to do better than just fine.
As you become more aware of what you are telling yourself, it becomes obvious that many of the thoughts that you keep thinking – which have become your beliefs – are what others and the culture in general have told you. Optimists choose to think thoughts that support their well-being. Mostly they don’t say anything to themselves that they wouldn’t say to anyone else.
An optimist is resilient.
In challenging conditions optimists’ positive outlook protects their mentality. At the Mount Sinai School of Medicine Dean Dennis Chaney conducted a study of 750 Vietnam War veterans held as prisoners of war for six to eight years. They did not develop depression or post-traumatic stress disorder even though they were tortured and put in solitary confinement. Through extensive questioning it was found that they had ten characteristics that other prisoners who suffered depression and post-traumatic stress disorder did not have. Having something to live for and a sense of humor where in the top ten, but optimism was number one.
An Optimist Has Come Back Ability
In sports the optimist’s ability to come back from defeat brings success. Matt Biondi who won five gold medals at the 1988 Seoul Olympics is an example. Seligman relates the story of how Matt took bronze and silver medals in his first two races, which was disappointing for him. But he had gone through a simulated defeat in practice and then bettered his score in the following race. He was able to come to his next races at the Olympics with an optimistic attitude and win all five.
Feel Good Stories
Optimists don’t bother to tell stories about events that didn’t feel good when they happened. If the goal is to feel a pleasant emotion in order to be in your power, there is no sense to repeat a story that makes you feel badly. The optimist finds plenty of good feeling stories to tell especially since they make it a point to look for them during their day.
Optimists forgo speaking of historical accuracy for emotional bias. Their explanatory style is to repeat the part of an event that feels good to talk about. The negative take is not activated.
Optimists use action to shift their thinking to thoughts that feel good to think about. When I was a parent of young children, I often used distraction to shift an upset into a positive experience. If a child slipped off the end of a section of playground equipment, I would give some comfort and bring him over to the sand to start playing with the dump trucks. The tumble was quickly forgotten.
At the Affective Neuroscience Laboratory in Essex Elaine Fox has done many scientific experiments that show your brain is rewired no matter what you think while doing a positive action. Fox states:
“A very common thing with depression or pessimism is that people really find it difficult to motivate themselves to do anything. But invariably if they do force themselves to do something, they generally do actually quite enjoy it. If you do that on a regular basis it becomes a kind of habit. It’s about shifting the habits of the mind. It’s really important to break up the normal way of doing things.”
Optimists Embrace The Unwanted
Yes – An optimist sees the silver lining no matter the condition. Optimists focus on the good. They are “hopeful and confident about the future or the success of something.”
However – it is important to know that optimists do not deny reality. In fact, it is just the opposite. An optimist acknowledges the situation, often articulating the essence of what has occurred. They can use their emotions to help tell them if this condition is something they would like more or less of in their life. If their thoughts about the condition initiate a pleasant emotion it is something they want. An unpleasant emotion indicates an unwanted condition.
What is observed or experienced gives the optimist clarity about what is wanted. The reality is information, a possible choice, a jumping off place. It can be appreciated for the input it has given. The optimist accepts reality and then does something about it.
As humans we live in a world of abundant diversity. It is our source of ideas and solutions. We have the freedom to choose what we want from the buffet of life. Like being at a buffet we can just leave what we don’t want and pick what we do want – take the best and leave the rest.
Of course, since optimism evokes the pleasant feeling emotions like;
happiness, love, appreciation, bliss, empowerment, interest, passion, contentment, serenity, clarity, confidence, eagerness, enthusiasm, excitement, inspiration, amusement, or awe
a good test of how optimistic you are is how often you feel any of these emotions. If any of them are usual emotions for you, you must be quite optimistic. Keep a daily journal of the emotions you felt during the day. Are the pleasant feeling emotions what you most often feel? How might you change your perspective?