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When someone is a self-proclaimed realist, or simply pessimistic by nature, decisions are often made considering only one factor: risk.
Faced with a decision, they ask themselves questions such as:
Aside from the benefits of considering what might be, rather than what might happen, studies have demonstrated that taking an optimistic view provides benefits beyond thinking big. A recent study in ScienceDaily found that optimistic people have less overall stress, and as a result live longer, healthier lives.
The shift from self-proclaimed “realist” to “striving optimist” comes from practicing what I refer to as “flipping the switch.”
If you find yourself considering risks, flip the question to something positive. “What’s the worst that can happen?” becomes, “What are the best possible outcomes?”
If you are typically pessimistic, your biggest critic will be yourself. For this reason, make sure you share your optimistic questions and initial ideas out loud with others. When we repeat things out loud, we override the little green negative person who is on our shoulder whispering pessimistic views in our ear.
It’s near impossible to be optimistic if you are surrounded by pessimistic people. This said, you can’t always eliminate these people from your life, so instead push back. When someone shares a pessimistic view, get in the habit of challenging their viewpoint. Don’t worry whether you have the answer to their concern; just simply share an opposing, yet positive, view.
Like step 3 above, although we can’t always control the people we are around, we can control what we consume. Be aware of what you read, where you travel, or who you choose to spend time with. If we consume negative news or information or spend time with negative people, we in turn will be negative.
If you aren’t convinced flipping the switch makes sense for you, then consider the alternative. The world needs more optimism, and you can have an impact.
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"Take time for all things: great haste makes great waste. " ~ Benjamin Franklin
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