The Benefits of Being an Optimist
By John Teng
Every so often we all find ourselves with a “glass half empty” mentality. However, for a lot of people, this mentality goes beyond one or two days and encompasses their entire life. You may even be one of these people; those who wonder if there is any positivity left in the world and if you are crazy for seeing so much anger, cruelty, violence, and negativity in your life. Yes, there is plenty of negativity in the world, but there is also a lot of good. When you see the news story about the shooting downtown, remember that a block over someone was falling in love, getting back on their feet, acing a test, or getting the job of their dreams. For every negative thing in life, there is something positive to counter act it. We can’t entirely insulate ourselves from negativity, but we can certainly spend more time focusing on the positive! Here are a few of the benefits of being an optimist and focusing on the positive.
1. It Improves You Social Life
No one wants to be around a habitually negative person, always telling you how life is boring and difficult and how violent the whole world is becoming. Everyone would much rather be around someone that, in spite of the bad, can smile and say “yes this situation is not great, but did I tell you about the awesome thing I saw happen yesterday?” Being optimistic will make you more approachable and more likeable, giving you more friends to interact with.
2. It Reduces Anger and Frustration
Always seeing the world in a negative light can make you angry and frustrated. If you always think your spouse is doing something wrong, or your kids are worse than the neighbors, or that work just is not going the way it should; you are going to grow increasing frustrated. This type of ongoing frustration eventually leads to hurt feelings and anger in many of your relationships. Optimism helps you to look past the little faults and focus on the good, such as how lucky you are to have a loving and supportive partner in your life, how happy your children are, and how fortunate you are for having a well-paying job. Positive thinking will turn your frown upside down and promote happiness instead of frustration.
3. It Helps You To Welcome Change
Being optimistic is a great way to help welcome either wanted or unwanted change in your life. By looking at the positive, you will reduce the anxiety and stress that comes with big changes or decisions. If you simply look at all the negatives about each decision you will ultimately become paralyzed and not be able make an informed decision. Instead, try to focus on two positives for every negative that you see. This way, you can make informed decisions but not become paralyzed by the negative thoughts that surround those decisions.
4. It Sets Your Mood
If you start your day with positive thoughts you are more than likely to be happy and cooperative throughout the day. Think about it, if you wake up feeling mad or upset, your mood will most likely be gloomy throughout the rest of the day. Why could this not work in the reverse? Try your best to wake up and look at the positive, starting your day on an optimistic note!
5. Makes You More Likely To Be A Centenarian
Although scientists do not know why optimists live longer, they have done analysis of several different groups of people and the results are always the same. It seems as though those who are positive, and who live their lives as optimists, have a better chance at reaching the 100 year mark.
6. Gets You More Job Offers and Promotions
Just like how your friends can feel and see your optimism, so can your boss, or your possible future employer. So, maybe it is not just about how much experience you have or how polished your resume is, but also about your attitude and your outlook when going into an interview. Optimism and positivity also help your productivity in your current job, which can get you noticed for promotions and other accolades. Research has also shown that those who are more optimistic are more content with their jobs and are happier even working jobs that are well below their skill level or expertise.
7. Makes You Better at “Bouncing Back”
Dr. Martin Seligman in the Positive Psychology Center of University of Pennsylvania has done research about the “bounce back” ability of those who are optimistic versus those who tend to be more negative. The research showed that those given negative reinforcement in tasks are more likely to perform more poorly than those who are given positive feedback. This means that those who are given positive feedback, can then think more positively about themselves even in the midst of failure, and have a better chance of bouncing back more quickly than those who are pessimistic.
So, if you are not an optimist are you doomed? Are you going to forever live in faulty relationships with dead end jobs and the inability to make your life better? Of course not! Optimism and positive thinking can be learned so make the personal commitment to focusing more of your thoughts on the brighter sides of life!
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