Many people seem to think that optimists are people who just ignore bad things in life and avoid problems altogether. That’s not the case at all. In fact, in actuality, it’s the complete opposite.
People who have an optimistic way of looking at their world actually run toward the challenges in their lives because they know there’s a solution to every problem.
With the rise of terms like “positive thinking,” on the surface, it can almost seem like unrealistic optimism. But with a deeper look into newer research stemming from positive psychology, it’s a mindset that scientists acknowledge can maximize your potential in every aspect.
For example, studies have shown that optimists take fewer sick days, get more job offers, are better at bouncing back from failure, and are healthier. Being equipped with this mindset allows you to create sustainable success for the long haul.
In Martin Seligman’s book Learned Optimism, a British study looked at sixty-nine women with breast cancer for five years. It concluded that the women who did not suffer a recurrence tended to be those who responded to cancer with a “fighting spirit.”
Specifically, this research highlights a newer science called Psychoneuroimmunology, which studies how your nervous system influences your immune system. To put this simply, how your thoughts affect the human body.
In other words, your thoughts can physically make you sick. Or your thoughts can physically make you healthy.
How you think determines just about every aspect of your life. Martin Seligman, who’s been called the father of positive psychology, says that learning to be optimistic is a vital way to help maximize your mental health and live a better life.
It all begins with the story that you tell yourself in day-to-day life. You can look at a life situation as if the cup is half full or half empty.
This is a choice we have; however, since most of us have been conditioned into what scientists call “negativity bias,” our brains tend to focus on what’s going wrong in our lives instead of what’s going right.
As Seligman says,
“Life inflicts the same setbacks and tragedies on the optimist as on the pessimist, but the optimist weathers them better.”
Weathering the storm to advance toward your goals despite the continuous setbacks is the one essential skill that can determine your success in your professional goals, relationships, and health.
The great thing about becoming optimistic, it’s a skill that can be learned. Just like riding a bike or driving a stick shift, once you learn it, it becomes easier the next time you practice it.
When deliberately practiced long enough, you build a habit, and the behavior can become unconscious. This means it doesn’t require the same amount of mental energy as it did the first time you started. You’ve gotten so good that it requires little to no conscious thought.
Science is now telling us that by consciously altering your thinking, you can literally rewire the structure of your brain.
Changing the story you tell yourself each day and seeing the glass half full rather than half empty is just like a muscle that can be reinforced for your desired result in the future.
As Winston Churchill says, “a pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”
If you’re looking to g