One question you might have when you read this title is, “Why I want to be an optimist?” Or, even, “How could I be optimistic with life way it is?” or “Who could be an optimist in today’s world?
And “today’s world” may mean to you that office you work in that’s so hopelessly understaffed and disorganized, or your inept boss, or terrorism, starvation and violence in world, your personal inadequacies for facing your personal challenges, lack of help around house, your hyper 2 year old twin boys, spending your days reeling among emotional states of your teenagers, your midlife-crisis spouse, and your aging mother, or any of above.
I was reminded of this dilemma when I was cornered other morning by a young woman who needed to get in my face about fact that her husband had gotten in her face that morning about “idiocy” of watching Prince Charles thing when there were more important things going on in world.
By end of his tirade he had listed terrorism, cancer, national budget crisis, and legal system as things more worthy of our attention that were, at same time, hopelessly screwed up. By end of his tirade, her husband’s “pessimistic attitude” had been added to list, as having “ruined” her day. And, had I allowed it, I could’ve added to list that her retelling of war story had “ruined” mine.
Let’s face it: it’s easier to be cynical. It’s also more realistic to be cynical.
If you’re kind of person who has a need to be right, betting that work project will be screwed up, that marriage will never last, and that Bush will make another decision that will fail to make world perfect are surer bets than opposite.
And so, if you’re negative and pessimistic, you’ll more often be right. But look at what else you’ll get: you’ll attract to yourself people who feel same way and will join you in a negative downward spiral; you’ll be quick to blame anything but yourself, leaving yourself feeling hopeless and helpless as well as angry; you’ll waste a lot of time belaboring obvious; and you’ll also stress yourself and your immune system.
Negative thinking leads to negative emotions which bring on physiological reactions which can damage your health in short-term and in long-term. Being optimistic doesn’t mean not being realistic.
It means making choices that influence outcomes, because they can also be self-fulfilling. If you’re sure your secretary is going to fail you again, she will. We are all influenced by energy around us, and who can function when someone is hovering around them who thinks she or he is “an idiot”? Also, if you’re determined she will fail you, you must make that happen to defend your ego, and so what else can you think when it’s over? She failed you.
Realism would say – if you truly hired wrong person, don’t be a victim. Take care of problem.
If you hired a person who, like everyone else, has good days and bad, works in an imperfect system, has to try and read your mind and accommodate to your admittedly difficult disposition at times, and is over-worked, don’t play victim – look at system and see what you can do to make things work better, assuming (optimistically) that this is possible, i.e., things will never be perfect, but they can generally be improved upon, and YOU are one to do it.
You could start, in that instance, with your own attitude and expectations.
In fact, if you want to make world a better place, start with your secretary’s “world.” Get it?
Pragmatically speaking – that is, if you want to function in real world – an optimistic view works better. It gives you energy to make things happen, because it gives you positive emotional energy.
Functionally-speaking, it is wiser to be optimistic. Optimism is a tool, therefore. If you can still that voice in your head that says everything stinks, you can begin to see what you can do about things as they are, some of which, yes, “stink,” but not all.