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How to Be More Optimistic

Put things in perspective

Intentionally present extremely positive predictions to counteract your extremely negative predictions. It will help you to find a middle road and put things in perspective.

By practicing this strategy, you can make changes that stick.

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How to Be More Optimistic

How to Be More Optimistic

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/18/smarter-living/how-to-be-more-optimistic.html

nytimes.com

5

Key Ideas

Pessimism vs optimism

While we may have many good reasons to be pessimistic, we don't have to resign ourselves to it forever.

Optimism can be learned. Research reveals that optimists earn more money, have better relationships and live longer.

Visualize your best possible self

Studies show that imagining your ideal future can increase your levels of optimism. Focusing on your dreams coming true turn your focus away from worrying about the worst possible outcome.

Imagine your ideal life in 10 years - what it would look like and how you would feel. Spend time considering family, career, romance or health. Now write it down once a week for the next two months.

Accept disappointment

When we expect the worst, we might be trying to protect ourselves from disappointment.

Disappointments are inevitable. We might as well have positive expectations that are occasionally proven wrong than negative expectations that are sometimes proven right.

Argue against yourself

When you recognize negative thoughts, argue with yourself as if it were an external person who is trying to make you miserable.

Present evidence to prove them wrong.

Put things in perspective

Intentionally present extremely positive predictions to counteract your extremely negative predictions. It will help you to find a middle road and put things in perspective.

By practicing this strategy, you can make changes that stick.

SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

Elements of well-being
Elements of well-being

Well-being can be broken into five elements:

  • Positive emotion
  • Engagement
  • Relationships
  • Meaning
  • Accomplishment

If you improve ...

Wired for pessimism

Pessimism comes naturally to people because thinking about the bad stuff that could happen helps us to prepare for survival.

The problem is that pessimists think bad events are permanent and unchangeable. "I think my interview is going to be a disaster." We need to learn to recognize what we're saying to ourselves and then argue against it. "I've done many interviews in my life, and they generally turn out well."

The need for hope

Meditation - mindfulness, focusing on the moment - is an excellent anti-anxiety, anti-anger tool..But accepting suffering and finding contentment in that means you can't move into doing something good in the future.

One important idea is hope. Positive human future doesn't come about by accident - it needs hopeful people who plan for it and make it happen.

Burnout is not the same as tired

Burnout is job-induced depression.

When you suffer from burnout, 

  • you become chronically exhausted
  • you become cynical and detached from...
3 Secrets to avoid burnout
  • Be Optimistic. Confronted by a bad situation, optimists perceive it as a challenge and try harder.
  • Find Meaning In What You Do. When you find true meaning in your work — when it’s not a job, it’s a calling — you don’t burn out.
  • Double Down On Relationships. Those who increase their social activity when things get hard handles stress the best.

Learned Optimism in Psychology
Learned Optimism in Psychology

This is a concept that suggests that we can always change our attitude and behaviour, be aware of our thoughts and stop our negative self-talk.

Learned Optimism is a positi...

Pessimism Vs Optimism

Pessimism is defined as the anticipation of good or bad things to happen in the future, while optimism is generally considered the opposite. Optimism can be defined as the individual difference variable reflecting the extent of which we hold positive expectancies for the upcoming event.

The ways in which we think affects our health, well-being and success, even though the situations are the same.

Benefits of Optimism
  • A positive impact on many aspects of physical and mental health.
  • Provides motivation to work harder.
  • Greater career success in life.

6 more ideas

Unrealistic Optimism
Unrealistic Optimism

The tendency to over-expect the probability of good things happening while negating the likelihood of anything bad happening is a common human trait.

Studies consistently ...

The Advocates for Pessimism

Pessimism, or having a bias towards a negative outcome, has a fan base too, as it seems that pessimists are immune to disappointment.

Their view of life already considers the worst possible outcome as the default one, and anything better than that can only improve it.

Loss Aversion

Losing something we already have is twice as much pain than gaining the same. This skewed feelings towards loss is known as loss aversion.

Expectations always dampen the feelings of happiness, always setting us up in advance for a dose of disappointment.

2 more ideas

Educate your mind to stop being unhappy
Educate your mind to stop being unhappy

Professions like the ones in accounting and law develop a sense of pessimism in the individuals practicing them. However, being obsessed with prudence at work and continue being like this at home i...

Remember the good

In order to be happy, you must first train your brain to perceive the good that happens to you.

One way to do this is by writing down three good experiences you live on a daily basis: appreciation comes from within, just like happiness.

Social comparison

While comparing yourself to others might not be extremely helpful, comparing yourself to people who are in a less good position than you might actually lead to you feeling better.

So, if you really feel this need, try not comparing yourself but to the ones in an inferior position.

one more idea

Reframe or divert

The first step in approaching a negative situation with an optimistic outlook is to accept what you can’t change.

Once you’ve done that, you have 2 options: reframe ( look ...

Savor the good

Noticing and savoring the pleasant moments and thinking, "Wow, this is really great "can strengthen positive emotions.

In general, we tend to dwell on the negative side and not notice the positive things we experience.

Set reminders

Write yourself a message on a sticky note and attach it to your computer screen at work (an inspirational quote, a reminder to smile, etc).

Small reminders like these help keep positivity front and center in your life.

3 more ideas

Defensive Pessimism
Defensive Pessimism
  • While normally pessimism means blaming yourself for the negative outcomes, defensive pessimism takes this at a whole new level, harnessing the negative feeling and using it as a step...
Setting Low Expectations

Having a defensively pessimistic strategy can help one chart out a course of action to ensure that the mishaps that are envisioned do not turn into reality.

Example: Having a low expectation of an interview, along with brooding about what all could go wrong can help one practice harder and plan to avoid those outcomes.

Pessimism As Insurance

While waiting for a piece of important news, being pessimistic has better health benefits than being overly optimistic.

If the news is not in one’s favour, the optimists take a bigger hit on their wellbeing, experiencing great disappointment, while the pessimists do not suffer as much, as they were already ready to take the hit.

one more idea

Good relationships

Having good, supportive friendships, a strong marriage or close and loving relationships with our family members will make us much more likely to be happy. 

Action steps: T...

Optimism and self-esteem

These are some of the best indicators of people who lead happy lives. Happy people feel empowered, in control of their lives, and have a positive outlook on life. 

Action steps: Get into the habit of squashing all negative thoughts and replacing them with positive ones.

Flow

People find greatest enjoyment not when they’re passively mindless, but when they’re absorbed in a mindful challenge. This is flow, when we're so immersed in our task that we lose track of time. 

Action steps: Find work  and hobbies that you’re passionate about and that fully engage you.

Defensive Pessimism

Defensive pessimism is a strategy used by people who are anxious about an upcoming event. They set unrealistically low expectations before going into a situation and take steps to avoid poor per...

Self-handicapping

Self-handicapping is where an individual will create obstacles for themselves before an ability-evaluating event. If it turned out poorly, the obstacles became an excuse or explanation for the failure. If it turned out positive, the obstacles became conquered hurdles.

Self-handicapping involves expecting the worst and self-sabotage.

Benefits of Defensive Pessimism

When comparing defensive pessimists to anxious people who do not practice defensive pessimism, the defensive pessimists show these benefits:

  • Their self-esteem and satisfaction increase over time.
  • They perform better academically
  • They form more supportive friendship networks,
  • They make more progress in their personal goals.

2 more ideas

The Shock Cycle: Dealing With Bad News
  1. You don’t see bad news (events are still small and aren't reported).
  2. You ignore the bad news because even once it’s reported it’s easy to dismiss if you’re not famil...
The Shock Cycle: Dealing With Good News
  1. After accepting the bad news, you don't really see good news anymore or you ignore them altogether because you are nervous to report optimism in times of crisis.
  2. You then deny good news, because you think good news must be wrong or out of context.
  3. You realize you missed the good news, but only looking back and can’t believe how clear the signs of improvement were.
  4. You now accept the good news, realizing that risk has receded and you can once again enjoy the fruits of progress.
  5. You abandon your attachment to bad news as good news dominates the media and optimism becomes socially acceptable again.