Pessimistic or Optimistic?

Optimistic or Pessimistic?

Which one are you?

Are you a pessimist?  You know the one that can always accurately predict whether you can or can’t do something.  You hear that little voice in your head that says, ‘I told you so’, when something goes wrong for you.  You expect failure and anticipate a negative outcome to whatever you try.

Dr Martin Seligman  of Pennsylvania University stated in his 1995 book, The Optimistic Child: –

Pessimism is an entrenched habit of mind that has sweeping and disastrous consequences: depressed mood, resignation, underachievement and even unexpectedly poor physical health.”  

Notice the word ‘habit’.  As humans we all develop and learn habits as we mature.  Some are good and some are bad.  Pessimism is a habit we learn because we allow a certain negative trigger to become what we always expect in the future.

On the other hand, optimists view themselves as having infinite possibilities.  They are less accurate in predicting how well they will or won’t achieve a certain task but that has been shown to be one of their greatest strengths.  Optimists have been shown to be four to five times more successful than pessimists simply because they have the unshakeable belief that they can do it

Children have unending optimism.  They spring out of bed in the morning and create new worlds for themselves to inhabit through play and imagination.  Somewhere along the line we lose this magical ability but it can be learned much as a pessimistic habit can be unlearned.

Mindset has been a challenge for me to develop and change as I have got older and life threw its fair share of curve balls at me.  Waking up in the morning felt horrible as my mind slowly filled with negative thoughts about what was happening in my life.  The wee, small hours are when we feel this most acutely but I have learned that I can override those thoughts and narrate a different story inside my head.

So, what do I mean?

Well, I think about my ideal day inside my ideal home.  I imagine everything from the aromas coming from the kitchen to going for a swim in my private, indoor pool.  I feel the sensation of the water, I smell the coffee and I feel the fur of my ideal dog.  I don’t just think it either.  I narrate a story to myself that completely overrides anything negative.  It’s really like being a child again without any concern for how good the story might be, I just tell it to myself anyway.  After all, nobody else can hear what’s going on inside your head can they?!

For example, it could be something along the lines of, ‘I am walking into my kitchen and I can smell the wonderful aroma of coffee and feel the sunshine streaming through the window ….  I can feel the water lapping around my body and I can hear the sound of my favorite music playing in the background …. My dog is snuggled up next to me as I listen to the rain trickling down the window and I read the latest novel by my favorite author.

Do you get the picture?  Obviously your ideal day / home / circumstances will be completely different.  Like I always tell the people I tutor, you should ‘paint a mental picture’ and all you need is your imagination.  

One of my most favorite films is The Shawshank Redemption where this concept of hope and optimism is key to the overriding message.  My point is probably best illustrated in a scene where Andy ‘hears’ his favorite music inside his head.  He created his own world out of nothing except his own imagination and his own self belief and optimism was what eventually set him free.

So, be more optimistic and embrace your inner child in order to break the cycle of negative thoughts that can ultimately stop us from achieving the life we want to live.  Remember that there is no limit to our imagination and thoughts and thoughts become the things we want out of life.

I wish you every success for your digital future!

Rachel A Hill LLB [Hons]

Digital Entrepreneur, Lawyer, Private Tutor and Author

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