“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”
- Winston Churchill
Optimism comes from the Latin root for “best” — it is expecting the best as well as seeing the best in even difficult situations. We have a lot of idioms that refer to optimism — “seeing the glass half full (versus half empty),” “every cloud has a silver lining,” and “looking on the bright side,” to name a few. To me, being optimistic draws from hope, joy, gratitude, humor, and an abundance mentality.
There is a lot of research on optimism which indicates optimistic people are happier, healthier and more resilient than pessimistic people. Of course, we all have both optimism and pessimism within us… but which one do we feed? Fortunately, research does show that optimism can be developed. Some of the ways to do this are to focus on gratitude (what are you thankful for?), to focus on possibilities, to be mindful in the present moment, and — as Winston Churchill points out — to seek the opportunity in every difficulty. Another tip is to recognize that rough patches are temporary (as are bright spots — enjoy them!) — and neither tough nor great times define who we are as a person (rather, it’s how we choose to respond that defines us).
This week’s Challenge: This week, I will mindfully choose positive thinking practices.
Avoiding being Gullible (overuse): Without balancing optimism with realism, you can end up being gullible or idealistic — possibly only seeing potential without consideration of real obstacles to be overcome. I’ve often heard someone say, “I’m not a pessimist; I’m a realist.” The trick is to keep the grounded thinking to objective facts (being a realist) and not heading down the path of expecting the worst to happen (being a pessimist).
Commendable Trait: Optimistic
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