“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.

We all have automatic tendencies in the way we think. They can result in a kind of intellectual wrestling match as our inner pessimist vies for supremacy over our hopes and aspirations. While this is going on, our ring-side emotions are what really matter. Emotions have a big impact on feelings, on how we engage with life, and the outcomes we create for ourselves.

Learned optimism

Teaching yourself to use learning optimism by choice can have far-reaching benefits. These 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. It strengthens your responses to the unavoidable setback and adversity that life throws at you.

Learning optimism does not mean abandoning pessimism. If you are more comfortable with an intuitively negative outlook, then stick with it. Optimism and pessimism are generally seen as opposites, but that doesn’t mean they are mutually exclusive. They can co-exist. It’s possible to learn how to use optimism selectively, without abandoning the sense that all is generally hopeless.