“Two men looking out through the same bars: One may see the mud, and one sees the stars.”- Frederick Langbridge, A Cluster of Quiet Thoughts
If you’ve placed second in a writing contest, will you jump for joy and push for better results the next time or will you be discouraged and find an excuse not to join again?
In life, you are always filled with choices. You may opt to have a pessimist’s view and live a self-defeated life or you may decide to take the optimist’s route and take a challenging and fulfilling life.
So why nurture an optimist’s point of view? And why now?
Well, optimism has been linked to positive mood and good morale; to academic, athletic, military, occupational and political success; to popularity; to good health and even to long life and freedom from trauma.
On the other hand, the rates of depression and pessimism have never been higher. It affects middle-aged adults the same way it hits younger people. The mean age of onset has gone from 30 to 15. It is no longer a middle-aged housewife’s disorder but also a teen-ager’s disorder’ as well.
Here’s how optimists are in action and researches that back up why it really pays to be an optimist:
Optimists expect the best
The defining characteristic of pessimists is that they tend to believe bad events, which will last a long time and undermine everything they do, are their own fault.
The truth is optimists are confronted with the same hard knocks of this world. What differs is the way they explain their misfortune—it’s the opposite way. They tend to believe defeat is just a temporary setback, that its causes are confined to this one case.
Optimists tend to focus on and plan for the ‘problem’ at hand. They use ‘positive reinterpretation.’ In other words, they most likely reinterpret a negative experience in a way that helps them learn and grow. Such people are unfazed by bad situation, they perceive it is a challenge and try harder.
They won’t say “things will never get better,” “If I failed once, it will happen again” and “If I experience misfortune in one part of my life, then it will happen in my whole life.”
Positive expectancies of optimists also predict better reactions during transitions to new environments, sudden tragedies and unlikely turn of events. If they fall, they will stand up. They see opportunities instead of obstacles.
People respond positively to optimists
Optimists are proactive and less dependent on others for their happiness. They find no need to control or manipulate people. They usually draw people towards them. Their optimistic view of the world can be contagious and influence those they are with.
Optimism seems a socially desirable trait in all communities. Those who share optimism are generally accepted while those who spread gloom, panic and hysteria are treated unfavorably.
In life, these people often win elections; get voted most congenial and sought for advice.
When the going gets tough, optimists get tougher
Optimists typically maintain higher levels of subjective well-being during times of stress than do people who are less optimistic. In contrast, pessimists are likely to react to stressful events by denying that they exist or by avoiding dealing with problems. Pessimists are more likely to quit trying when difficulties arise.
They persevere. They just don’t give up easily, they are also known for their patience. Inching their way a step closer to that goal or elusive dream.
Optimists are healthier and live longer
Medical research has justified that simple pleasures and a positive outlook can cause a measurable increase in the body’s ability to fight disease.
Optimists’ health is unusually good. They age well, much freer than most people from the usual physical ills of middle age. And they get to outlive those prone to negative thoughts.
So why not be an optimist today? And think positively towards a more fulfilled life.
Why not look forward to success in all your endeavors? Why not be resilient? Like everybody else you are bound to hit lows sometimes but don’t just stay there. Carry yourself out of the mud and improve your chances of getting back on the right track. And why not inspire others to remove their dark-colored glasses and see life in the bright side?
The most common problem to setting goals is the word impossible. Most people get hung up thinking I can’t do this. It’s too hard. It’s too impossible. No one can do this.
However, if everyone thought that, there would be no inventions, no innovations, and no breakthroughs in human accomplishment.
Remember that scientists were baffled when they took a look at the humble bumblebee. Theoretically, they said, it was impossible for the bumblebee to fly. Unfortunately for the bumble, bee no one has told it so. So fly it does.
On the other hand, some people suffer from dreaming totally outrageous dreams and not acting on them. The result? Broken dreams, and tattered aspirations.
If you limit yourself with self-doubt, and self-limiting assumptions, you will never be able to break past what you deem impossible. If you reach too far out into the sky without working towards your goal, you will find yourself clinging on to the impossible dream.
Try this exercise. Take a piece of paper and write down some goals in your life. Under one header, list down things ‘you know you can do’. Under another header, write the things ‘you might be able to do.’ And under one more, list the things that that are ‘impossible for you to do.’
Now look at all the headers strive every day to accomplish the goals that are under things ‘you know you can do’. Check them when you are able to accomplish them. As you slowly are able to check all of your goals under that heading, try accomplishing the goals under the other header-the one that reads ‘you might be able to do.’
As of the items you wrote under things I could do are accomplished, you can move the goals that are under things that are ‘impossible for you to do’ to the list of things ‘you might be able to do.’
As you iterate through this process, you will find out that the goals you thought were impossible become easier to accomplish. And the impossible begin to seem possible after all.
You see, the technique here is not to limit your imagination. It is to aim high, and start working towards that goal little by little. However, it also is unwise to set a goal that is truly unrealistic.
Those who just dream towards a goal without working hard end up disappointed and disillusioned.
On the other hand, if you told someone a hundred years ago that it was possible for man to be on the moon, they would laugh at you. If you had told them that you could send mail from here to the other side of the world in a few seconds, they would say you were out of your mind. But, through sheer desire and perseverance, these impossible dreams are now realities.
Thomas Edison once said that genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. Nothing could be truer. For one to accomplish his or her dreams, there has to be had work and discipline. But take note that that 1% has to be a think-big dream, and not some easily accomplished one.
Ask any gym rat and he or she will tell you that there can be no gains unless you are put out of your comfort zone. Remember the saying, “No pain, no gain”? That is as true as it can be.
So dream on, friend! Don’t get caught up with your perceived limitations. Think big and work hard to attain those dreams. As you step up the ladder of progress, you will just about find out that the impossible has just become a little bit more possible.