How to get from pessimism to optimism is an issue pessimists will have to grapple with. How you look at the world determines your expectations and hence results that you get out of life. Optimism has been defined as 1. hopefulness and confidence about the future or success of something, 2. the doctrine that this world is the best of all possible worlds. Pessimism on the other hand, is defined as 1. lack of hope or confidence in the future, 2. belief that this world is as bad as it could be or that evil will ultimately prevail over good.
It is often said that being a person with optimism is slightly dangerous. This is because the potential for danger is more likely to be underestimated due to a blithe and lackadaisical attitude that all is well and will be well.
Pessimists, on the other hand, tend to be fatalistic. Almost everything is looked upon as a disaster. If they did not receive a call from a friend, they assume that the person is angry. If their superior not pleased with them for a particular situation, they imagine that their job is on the line, and they expect to hear the bad news real soon. Pessimists view that they have little control. Because they don’t believe that they can effect change, they take a passive role. They see no benefit in either trying nor minimizing risk to avoid the undesirable outcome. They ascribe good and bad things entirely to chance.
Optimists tend to view problems as only temporary and restricted to a particular set of circumstances. They believe they can effect a change if they tried.
Psychologist Martin EP Seligman explains that pessimists tend to be cursed by the 3 P’s permanent, pervasive and personal.
1. Permanent. Pessimists feel helpless and incapable of changing their situation. They can’t see a way out. Pessimists are wrapped in their own misery and gloom. Listen to the pessimist speak: ” I’m doomed, we’re ruined” All is lost!” ” There’s no way out!” Optimists on the other hand, see it as temporary and will make attempts to effect changes
2. Pervasive. Pessimists magnify the situation and see the damage as pervasive. Optimists on the other hand, exercise damage control- they confine the problem within its borders and refocus on the things that are working.
3. Personal. Pessimists take problems personally. They blame either themselves or someone else. Self recriminating thoughts often occur like ” I shouldn’t have done this. ” This would never have happened if .” Optimists see themselves as personally involved but they don’t own every problem. They deal in the realities of what they have power over.
In conclusion, be an optimist. It is infinitely better. Take control, limit the problem, and control the things you can. You will overcome a thousand obstacles, conquer and succeed.