We often hear, especially in particularly difficult moments and situations, how important it is to remain optimistic. Yet, for many people, optimism seems to have remained a distant thing in time, almost completely forgotten. Do you remember, as a child, the vision you had of things? How did you approach the world? How did you take up the challenges? Most likely, you were willing to fight for your favourite toy. Or, to defend your position in choosing which game to play, knowing that you could be successful in those little battles. All this with absolute confidence and a good dose of stubbornness.
What is optimism?
Of course, optimism is also lacking in many children. Anyway, it is their attitude that can become the starting point for regaining such an important point in anyone’s life: optimism. According to Wikipedia, optimism is “an attitude reflecting a belief or hope that the outcome of some specific endeavour, or outcomes in general, will be positive, favourable, and desirable”.
Moods such as determination, enthusiasm, trust, passivity or discouragement significantly influence your relationship with the reality that surrounds you. This only partially reflects the nature of the trials you face. In reality, the same challenges are experienced as opportunities in which to enhance their abilities by some people. On the other hand, these are considered threats to reveal their limits by others.
Optimism is therefore a positive emotional response that you choose to give to your life. It needs a reasoned strategy that constitutes the path to take to face difficult situations by managing to benefit from each of them. It is a predisposition to see reality from its best side.
Even in the professional field, maintaining a positive attitude in the face of situations helps you to be more productive and able to identify solutions. This happens by concentrating your energies on achieving results. In this way, concentration is strengthened, the sense of boredom is eliminated and the effort that work can often require is less felt.
The business card of the optimist is the sincere smile he shows when he faces the days in a good mood. Regardless of external conditions, he is well aware of not being able to change them but he can do a lot by acting on himself.The best ally of optimism is the hope that suggests a bright future. It is the will to try and try again without ever giving up. Hope helps you find the best energies and when it meets intuition, anything can happen, without boundaries of thought, time and space.
How do you become an optimist?
Becoming optimistic does not mean suddenly becoming indifferent, selfish or arrogant towards others. It simply means learning how to actively converse with yourself when facing a personal defeat or a particularly difficult challenge. In essence, it’s about learning the ability to engage in a more encouraging inner dialogue about your adversity.
Martin Seligman, an American psychologist, was one of the first to study the characteristics of happy and optimistic people. He developed a method called ABCDE (Adversity, Beliefs, Consequences, Dispute, Energy) by which you can choose how you think about a situation, how you can create new patterns of thinking, reinforce positive patterns and change the negatives ones. It works in this way:
- Adversity. When you realize that you are focused on negative thoughts, try to identify the event, not necessarily real, that triggered this emotional reaction. Then, try to describe it in great detail by asking yourself the who, what, when and where of the situation.
- Belief. Your thoughts are the expression of the meaning you attribute to the events you experience. Your belief system determines what you think, directly affecting your emotions and actions. Identify the beliefs that have contributed to fueling your negative thoughts. Then, ask yourself why you thought this and what beliefs these thoughts are based on.
- Consequences. The thoughts that emerged will surely have determined consequences, both in emotional and behavioural terms. Describe them by listing your reactions and feelings, asking yourself what emotions generated those thoughts and what prompted you to act that way.
- Dispute. The goal is to question previously raised thoughts, trying to eliminate the limiting beliefs that fueled them. It comes down to generating one piece of evidence to point out the inaccuracy in your beliefs. Subsequently, to create a more accurate and optimistic alternative belief about the adversity itself or put into perspective your beliefs.
- Energy. At this point, pay attention to the energy generated by the application of the previous four phases. Then, notice how your thoughts have changed. What is your current emotional state? How is your behaviour changed? Which solutions can you see that you didn’t see before? Also, learn to take responsibility for your reactions to those same situations and think about what you can concretely do to improve them.
Being optimistic and interpreting things positively certainly brings many benefits, but it can be risky when it is completely unreasonable. Flexible optimism helps you to acknowledge the facts and possible consequences, making you focus on your emotions, control your beliefs, and even take action to prevent or solve a problem, or improve a situation. It is optimism “with open eyes”. When needed, it is important to be able to use a strong sense of reality without being permanently anchored in it.
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