Why optimism works is something we should all think about. We make a subconscious choice when we wake up each morning. We will either operate as an optimist or a pessimist that day. Unless we make a conscious effort to be optimistic, we’ll automatically gravitate toward pessimism. It’s just plain easier to be negative because it gives us an excuse not take actions we know we should take. However, the meaningful achievements in life come from showing leadership by being optimistic. Optimism comes from the Latin optimus, which means “the best.” That’s what leaders are always striving for in their daily activities. They simply expect positive things to happen in their lives and thus they look for them. What we focus on expands. Optimists focus on what they want and expect good things to happen no matter what. If you want to become more optimistic, here are some ideas I’m optimistic will be meaningful for you.
Medical studies have proven that optimists are generally healthier than pessimists. Something good happens in the body when we’re optimistic. Stress is reduced, anxiety levels are lowered, and we’re generally more relaxed when we look for the good. Most optimists realize that it’s important to take care of themselves. They eat healthier meals, exercise regularly, and realize that smoking doesn’t get them where they want to be. They get checkups regularly and, most of the time, their results show that they are healthier than pessimists. An optimistic attitude appears to strengthen the immune and cardiovascular systems while building up the body’s ability to handle stress.
If you want to be more optimistic, and don’t have that attitude now, getting regular exercise is a great way to begin. Perhaps a walk around the block, two or three times a week. Then you can progress from there. As I write this, I am 70 years old. I get a yearly physical and am always looking for ways to improve my health. By doing that, I’m optimistic that I’ll live productively for many more years. Last year my A1C blood sugar number was getting a little high, edging toward diabetes. After watching my diet for a few months, and not seeing much change, I decided to up my exercise regimen at the gym from 2 times a week to 5 times a week. Lifting some weights and using a treadmill each of those times got my blood sugar number back to normal! Taking control of my health, with regular exercise, helps me keep an optimistic attitude and makes me feel better every day.
Why optimism works is a concept that involves other people. In order to achieve greater things in life, most of us need the cooperation of others. At the same time, our attitude is contagious to everyone around us. If we’re generally pessimistic, those around us feel that and they act accordingly. Napoleon Hill, in the book “Think and Grow Rich,” said that we are all like radio stations. We’re constantly sending our signals to everyone around us. Most people send negative signals and then they wonder why they don’t get cooperation. Optimists make a conscious effort to send out positive signals with the idea of uplifting everyone around them.
Since attitude is everything, we should focus on being part of the building crew rather than part of the wrecking crew if we want to be optimistic. An optimistic attitude shows leadership and, if we have people who report to us, that kind of attitude will inspire them to do their best. Dale Carnegie, in the book “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” said that we should look for the good and embellish it and, as much as possible, disregard the bad. Surveys have shown that the majority of managers in companies do not follow this concept and thus do not relate well to their team members. An optimistic leader, who looks for the good, and gives proper recognition, will have a shortcut to greater success.
Why optimism works recognizes that we all get down from time to time. The most successful people have often had the most failures. Babe Ruth, known as the home run hitter in baseball many years ago, also had the most strikeouts. Champions get depressed when a project doesn’t work out, when they don’t get a big deal, or when they get fired. However, optimistic, positive people have learned that they can’t afford to stay down. They have developed techniques for getting up faster. They look for what they can learn from every failure and make a mental note not to make the same mistake again.
I was born in Israel. Executives there have a very productive method for helping their team members get through failures. They feel that defending is not acceptable. The failure has happened and any time that person spends defending themselves is a waste of time. They immediately go to “What did you learn?” They get excited to hear from that person what they learned and how that lesson can be of value in the future. What if we did that when we face our next failure? What if we asked ourselves “What did I learn and what will I do differently in the future?” We need to become a car with no rear view mirror. Optimists look forward and thus they see opportunities. Looking backward at a failure, and getting depressed about it, blinds us to what good thing may be ahead of us.
Why optimism works is a concept that begins at the beginning of each day. Optimists realize that the first 15 minutes of every day are critical if they want to be optimistic. These days, we all have so many inputs with cell phones, texting, email, and phone calls. When you throw in radio and television news, as well as the daily paper, the inputs are monumental. Having been a newscaster when I was in college, I can tell you that we weren’t told to look for positive stories. Our theme was “If it bleeds, it leads.” In other words, much of the news we pay attention to each morning is negative. Thus, I suggest turning off radio and television news in the morning and canceling the daily paper.
Instead, how about ordering a good attitude every morning by declaring positive affirmations of how we want our attitude to be that day. The brain cannot tell the difference between something real and something we imagine. Thus, let’s imagine an optimistic attitude each morning and see how that affects what we do the rest of the day. Here are examples of a couple of optimistic affirmations:
EVERYTHING I TOUCH PROSPERS AND SUCCEEDS. I EXPECT POSITIVE, GOOD THINGS TO HAPPEN IN MY LIFE TODAY. I AM A CHAMPION!
Just declare that affirmation, or something similar, the first thing each morning without analysis. If you want to add more power to your future, repeat the affirmations at night just before you go to sleep. That way, your brain can work on those thoughts throughout the night. The first thing each morning and the last thing each night are the two times your subconscious mind is most open to suggestion.
Why optimism works relates to our happiness. Too many times, and I’ve been as guilty of this as anyone, we think that other people affect how happy or how miserable we are. Actually, we’re all about 6” away from happiness and greater success – the distance between our ears. I had to learn that the only person really responsible for my attitude, and my success, was ME. And, when it came to me, I was way too hard on myself. That set up mental roadblocks which kept me from greater success. I had to learn to get off my own back.
The way I did that is by declaring the following affirmation every morning and every evening: I AM PROUD OF ME. The first month I did that I was lying through my teeth because, in the past, I had sold myself on the opposite. Even today, I can get as negative as quickly as anybody else. I just can’t afford to stay there. Thus, when I get depressed and unhappy, I simply take mental inventory. I remind myself that I have good health, have loving people around me, am talented, and that I do have a certain measure of success in my work. Thus, I quickly realize that those things are more valuable to me than the momentary dilemma. That process helps me get back toward productive action and toward happiness.
Why optimism works recognizes that optimism is a vital trait of successful people. It can be developed by taking a few simple steps every day. The rewards for this effort are certainly much greater than the disappointments that come from being pessimistic.
“Everything I touch prospers and succeeds. I expect positive, good things to happen in my life today!”
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Copyright 2017 by Boaz Rauchwerger