The optimism prism
"My optimism wears heavy boots and is loud."
I consider myself an optimistic person, but I do not walk around with unrealistic expectations. My attitude is excited anticipation, while accepting whatever unfolds. This allows me to put forth more effort with my personal and professional goals without any anxiety over being let down. I feel one big reason people shy away from being optimistic is they don't want to let themselves down or feel defeated if the results do not match the initial expectations. By not tying ourselves to a specific outcome, we are able to move on more easily, and perhaps pave the way for something even better to come along.
I used to have a more pessimistic outlook on life when I perceived the world as against me. I played the victim role, unsuccessfully. Looking back, I never realized how good I actually had it. From a worldview, I had all my basic needs covered, born and raised in the US by two loving parents of European descent. There was plenty of opportunity available to me if I was willing to seize it. In my early 20's I felt more entitled than fortunate. When things did not go my way, I felt more cursed than challenged. I wanted to place blame instead of accept responsibility. I realized I was looking at my life circumstances and reacting to them all wrong. It got me nowhere.
Now when life throws me a curveball, if I swing and miss, I don't get down on myself. I focus on the next pitch. If I strike out, I focus on the next at-bat. I don't dwell on strikeouts. I learn from my previous at-bats. It's amazing what a shift in our perception can do toward our outlook on life. I still encounter hardships, but the weight is less. I feel the same way about the news. The news will always be the news. How I react to the news is up to me. I used to have a doom and gloom mentality. Now when I see strife, I think of ways to help make things right. I notice more of the good going on in the world.
I know the Positivity Train is not for everyone. Having a positive mental attitude can also seem contradictory and deflating when things feel like they are falling apart. In his new book It Takes What it Takes, "Sports World's Best Brain Trainer" Trevor Moawad talks about taking a neutral mindset approach to life. Most importantly, it's about avoiding negativity. The quicker we bounce back from whatever it is that knocks us down, the more prepared we are for whatever comes next. Resilience is one of the cornerstones of optimism. A positive outlook makes it much easier to get back up and keep moving.