“There is reason to be optimistic about the future”. How does the phrase strike you? What reactions do you notice in yourself? Not the intellectual reactions that we use to judge truth and accuracy, but the subtle inner responses like emotion, body sensations and comfort.
The future hasn’t happened yet, which means that it is laced with possibilities. One of them is that we can choose how we go there (to the future that is). Optimism is within everyone’s reach. You don’t have to be an optimist to think optimistically, and there are many reasons that it is worth our consideration.
For one thing, optimism is linked to resilience, so even if it doesn’t suit you to take a positive outlook, becoming more resilient should be of interest (because it’ll help you cope when things go wrong).
Optimism as a habit
We all have automatic tendencies in the way we think, and they can result in a kind of intellectual wrestling match as optimism and our inner pessimist vies for supremacy over our hopes and aspirations. While this is going on, our ring-side emotions are what really matter, for emotions have a big impact not just on feelings, but on how we engage with life and the outcomes we create for ourselves.
Learning optimism and teaching ourselves to use it by choice can have far-reaching consequences that go deep into our unconscious processes and create emotional and physical resilience. Even if it doesn’t suit you to take a positive outlook, becoming more resilient should be of interest for its proven advantages when dealing with the unavoidable setback and adversity that life throws at us.
Reasons to be cheerful
You may not be one of nature’s natural optimists, but optimism can be built and developed. Here are a couple of reasons to do it.
First, optimism is about the future, by definition, and thinking about the future makes some people uneasy. But since we are all going there, that in itself should be enough to make optimism worth your consideration.
Second, optimism brings real and tangible benefits. There are now thousands of studies that confirm that optimism and hope contribute to resistance to depression in the face of negative life events, better performance at work, better physical health, and improved quality of life.