The Value of Being Optimistic

· September 14, 2016

We’ve always heard that being optimistic helps us be more successful in life. However, it’s possible that we haven’t received many logical answers to why this is. Or we might not be clear on exactly how to be optimistic.

In recent years, researchers have sought to better understand which strengths and skills lead to greater personal satisfaction and a full life. According to these studies, being optimistic is definitely up there!

What are the benefits of being optimistic?  

Optimistic people tend to suffer fewer depressive problems. Apparently, optimism helps protect us from developing the hopeless point of view that is characteristic of depression. It “softens the blow” of the impact caused by difficulties. At the same time, it helps us to see ourselves as people who are more capable of facing conflicts and overcoming suffering.

Optimism also seems to help people develop fewer physical illnesses. Apparently, optimism helps us when it comes time to face stressful situations, and offsets the harmful effects of stress on our health.

Likewise, optimism can promote better academic and athletic performance and professional adaptation. It’s presence helps us overcome setbacks, while it also lets us build ambitious goals and dreams that keep us motivated and focused towards their achievement.

How does an optimistic person behave? 

Pessimistic and optimistic people use different strategies when it comes time to confront stressful situations. Optimistic people use much more efficient and constructive mechanisms when facing conflicts.

An optimistic mindset makes us more inclined to directly resolve the problem at hand. At the same time, it prevents us from, for example, falling into the typical mistake of trying to “forget” or “run away from” that painful or distressing element, which definitely doesn’t help us find a solution to the conflict.

Optimists seem to move towards the resolution of what’s troubling them much more easily. They feel more capable, with more control and likelihood of success. Therefore, they work harder to improve and think less about their discomfort. They seek out more and better solutions. On the contrary, pessimists tend to focus on the negative emotions the problem causes them. They become stuck in a loop that’s hard to get out of and which doesn’t lead to any resolution.

But…how can I be a real optimist? 

It seems to have a lot to do with expectations. Optimists tend to expect positive results in their lives, with a general belief that “everything is going to be okay” although they may be going through tough times. We develop this mindset based on how we interpret events from the past

Optimistic people tend to attribute positive events to permanent and global causes which tend to be associated with themselves. For example, when they get promoted at work, they attribute this to the fact that life is fair, and they are truly competent. This helps them have positive beliefs which invite them to become closer to the world, to people, to experience life without fear, and to trust in their own abilities.

In turn, they tend to attribute negative events to external, temporary and specific factors. For example, a hostile attitude from their partner or friend can be attributed to the fact that they might have had a bad day, and they have been hostile without thinking. This kind of explanation invites us to give the other person a second chance. It protects the relationship with this other person and with ourselves. This is much less painful and much easier to manage, than thinking that everyone is cruel and that there’s something bad in us. Therefore, the optimist places the fault of this negative event on something fleeting. Tomorrow is a new day!

Although our success depends on many factors, it seems that it can be useful to turn in our pessimistic explanations of our experiences for optimistic ones. Hoping that things will get better can definitely make our lives a little bit easier and much more successful!