So is Pessimism
Optimism is choosing what you believe about adversity. Emotion and action follow our interpretation of an event — they don't simply follow events without us first assigning meaning. Optimism is resiliency.
The optimist views adversity as impermanent, isolated incidents that are not personal in nature. They see choice and challenge and try new things when the going get tough. Though they get knocked down by occasional defeat, optimists dispute negative thoughts, take action and recover quicker than their pessimistic counterparts. Optimists make an effort to connect with others, and in turn, have better relationships than pessimists. Optimists are curious and explore possibilities, opening themselves to risk, opportunity, and reward.
The pessimist, on the other hand, sees things as permanent, pervasive and personal. They focus on what's wrong which leads to rumination, inertia and passivity. Pessimists isolate rather than reach out to others. Pessimism is self-fulfilling and leads to poor health and depression. Pessimists sometimes ruminate about their happy past or daydream about the life they want but stay passive rather than taking action to make change happen — thus fulfilling their fatalistic outlook.
The good news is that pessimists can choose to become optimists by using the strategy in the first paragraph. By learning to change the interpretation of a negative event, you can change the emotions and actions that follow. By taking the small step to dispute your automatic thoughts when adversity strikes (which might be often when you're depressed), you'll begin feeling empowered and capable. When you learn that you're in charge of your thoughts, you learn that you're in charge of your feelings, actions, and outcomes, too.
Passivity, a bioproduct of pessimism, ensures that you're never personally responsible — you can never take the blame and you can never take the credit. If you find passivity and rumination to be your norm, it would be useful to consider how they benefit you. While it might be comfortable to be the martyr, you're choosing to let life pass you by via passivity. You must choose responsibility and action to create the upward spiral of optimism and the positive benefits that come with it.
To foster sustainable change alongside others that share your journey toward optimism, learn and practice the skills of the optimist with AlohaConnection.
For further theory and research about optimism: Seligman, M. (1990). Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life. New York, NY; Random House, Inc.
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