Whatever your life aspirations, you have access to an outstanding resource that’s just waiting to be tapped: the inexhaustible reservoir of optimism. It’s one of your greatest assets in the face of adversity, and it provides you with fuel as you pursue fulfillment.
If your default posture is one of pessimism --- anticipating the worst, even in moments of promise and positivity --- you will create a self-fulfilling cycle of disappointment and despondency. But if your M.O. is optimism, you will be able to find the silver lining in every let-down and the opportunity in every failure.
One of the best places to begin in adopting a mindset of optimism is with your internal dialogue. Are you quick to complain, criticize, or stew? Or is your reflex to praise, uplift, and embrace possibility? How you process difficulties internally will dictate how you respond to them externally. What’s more, your odds of success hang in the balance: if optimism prevails over pessimism, then you’ll have a much better chance of accomplishing what you desire.
What do you say to yourself?
When you’re confronted by failure of some kind, what are your immediate thoughts? Do you rush to condemn, vindicate, or excuse yourself? Or do you take a realistic look at your role and turn a hopeful eye toward the future?
In the face of self-imposed set-backs, the approach of optimists is not to skewer and rake themselves over the coals. Nor is it to try to justify themselves and divest themselves of any responsibility. Instead, optimists objectively assess the part that they played and eagerly resolve to learn from their error.
This quality --- a combination of sober-minded self-awareness and pragmatic positivity --- is what makes optimists so winsome to those around them. True optimists are such a joy to be around because they take such delight in every growth opportunity that they receive. This is another way of saying that optimists take sheer delight in life --- which is itself a series of growth opportunities!
What do you think about others?
When you feel you’ve been given the short end of the stick or just outright wronged, what’s your kneejerk response? Do you fume inside and begin to build a case against the perpetrators? Or do you bear with them, assuming the best of their motives even if their words or actions hurt you?
To say that optimists roll with the punches does not mean that they don’t feel the sting of slander, the ache of exclusion, or the bewilderment of betrayal. Optimists are human, after all. But rather than nursing wounds and harboring grudges for weeks and months on end, they instead forgive and, to the extent they’re able, forget. Because of this, they have an easier time becoming --- and remaining --- a friend to all.
This is one of the primary reasons why the most enduring and endearing leaders tend to be optimists. Without being needlessly naïve, they labor to see and to draw out the best in those around them. As a result, they’re able to build teams and forge bonds based on mutual respect, admiration, and trust. Without hesitation or qualification, these optimistic leaders believe that every person --- from the CEO to the individual who faithfully cleans the CEO’s office --- plays an integral part in the success of the overall organization.
What does the future mean to you?
Finally, what feelings does the future inspire in you? Do you fret and fuss as you think about the hard work required to get from Point A to Point B? Do you dread the thought of your greatest effort’s falling flat? Or do you look to the horizon with hope, with courage, with certainty that the best is indeed yet to come?
For optimists, the future is chock-full of opportunity. Consequently, optimists spend little time dwelling on the past --- good or bad --- and keep an eye toward an ever-brighter tomorrow. Perhaps counterintuitively, their sense of eagerness and excitement toward the future allows them to enjoy the present more fully. Free from the wearying distraction of fear and the crushing heaviness of regret, optimists revel in the here-and-now.
The path of optimism is one of perpetual contentment in the face of life’s many vicissitudes. While it is not ignorant of difficulties and disappointments, it chooses to view them in light of a larger story --- of triumph over trial, of learning over languishing, of joy over jadedness. And best of all, optimism is available to everyone… doesn’t that make you optimistic?