There was an article in the New York Times earlier this week entitled “A Richer Life by Seeing the Glass Half Full.” It talks about the health benefits of optimism and lays out some suggestions for how we can all be more optimistic. It seems that these stories are ubiquitous lately.
I am always fascinated by these stories. Can a person really change their entire outlook from one of pessimism to one of optimism? And if not, how helpful is it for those of us who are not naturally optimistic to hear that this is bad for our health?
I have always believed that I am an optimistic person, but even I recognize things in this article that I could not live up to in the quest to be a true optimist. I am sure that friends from high school will painfully recall that I was always sure that I would fail every test after I took it – And I suppose that does mar my credentials as an optimist.
I find it hard to believe that a person can truly change something that seems to be so much a part of the fabric of who that person is. But I would love to hear from all of you and be proven wrong.
I do like the strategies suggested in the article and think they are worthy of note:
Regardless of the nature of your work, identify some aspect of it that is personally fulfilling. If your job is scrubbing floors, stand back and admire how shiny and clean they look.
Surround yourself with positive, upbeat people. But be aware that if you are chronically negative and always see only the dark side of things, the optimists in your life may eventually give up on you.
Focus on situations that you can control, and forget those you can’t. I would also suggest using voting power, money or communication skills to forward a goal that is beyond your personal control.
But I am not overly optimistic that these strategies will change the lens through which I see the world.
What do you think? Do you think a person can work to change their outlook from one of pessimism to one of optimism? And what about vice versa? Do you think that a person can become a pessimist based on their life experiences? Do you have any tips or strategies for people who are interested in changing their outlook to become more optimistic? Have you, or one of your family members or friends, successfully worked to change? So much of this seems rooted in negative self-talk – have you found ways to quiet that inner critic that you would be willing to share?
I would love to hear your thoughts. And thank you for reading!