U.S. President Harry S. Truman once said, “A pessimist is one who makes difficulties of his opportunities and an optimist is who makes opportunities of his difficulties.”
Which do you think will reach their goals, live a happy life, and achieve their dreams?
Imagine interviewing two people who have identical skills, but one is always grumbling about how unfair life can be, while the other one talks about what wonderful possibilities exist. Who would you want to hire? Whom do you think would do a better job?
Naturally, you would gravitate toward the optimist. If you choose the pessimist, you would be setting yourself up for plenty of aggravation and disappointment, not to mention the negative impact on your staff and customers. Pessimism can bring everyone down, not just the person with the negative attitude.
Pessimism is nothing more than self-sabotage. Expecting only the worst is not being realistic. Realists hope for the best but prepare for the worst. Pessimists can’t imagine the best, so only prepare for the worst.
And then if the worst never happens? Pessimists often find the worst possible result simply to prove that their concerns were right.
The question becomes, would you rather be right than happy? That’s not being realistic either. That’s being self-defeating. Pessimism can rob you of your energy, sap you of your strength, and drain you of your dreams.
Optimism is the remedy. Optimism doesn’t mean pretending life is always wonderful. Optimism means embracing reality. You accept that there will be bad days, but also good days. When you’re grounded in reality, you know where you are and how far you need to go. Once you know how far your goal may be from where you are, optimism can give you the motivation to make plans to get to where you want to go.
Pessimists see life as one problem after another. Optimists see life as one opportunity after another.
How you look at life can drastically affect how much you enjoy your life. Optimists expect the best out of life. If you were not raised with this attitude, take comfort: it can be learned.
Optimism is based on three basic tenets, according to Mary Kay Mueller in her book “Taking Care of Me: The Habits of Happiness”:
- Bad things do happen in life, but they are temporary.
- Bad things in life are limited in scope and tend to be small or insignificant.
- People have control over their environments.
Pessimists reverse the tables:
- Good things in life are temporary.
- Good things in life are limited – small or insignificant.
- People have no control over their environments.
Does it make sense that pessimists tend to blame others or circumstances for their failures?
Optimists help create some of the good they come to expect, so they are probably right more than not – and they don’t waste time worrying about what they’re not right about. Optimism relaxes people. When we’re relaxed, there is better blood flow to the brain, which results in more energy and creativity in your life.
Consider how optimism turned this situation around.
Within a seven year time span, a woman’s mother died, her husband divorced her, and she found herself living in poverty just one step away from being homeless. In her spare time, she wrote a book that 12 publishers rejected. Finally one publisher accepted her book about a boy named Harry Potter. And then she wrote a few more books, which became blockbuster movies, and even spawned a theme park.
J.K. Rowling was an optimist who’s now a billionaire. How far in life would she have gotten by being a pessimist?
There is virtually nothing that you can’t do if you set your mind to it. You cannot control events in your life, but you can control how you react.
Do you want to be a pessimist and have no hope for a better future? Or would you rather be an optimist and believe you can achieve a better future?
There once was an old man who had many troubles. No matter what hardship life handed him, he faced each obstacle with a smile and a cheery disposition.
A friend finally asked him how he managed to stay so happy despite his challenges
The old man quickly answered: “Well, the Good Book often says, ‘And it came to pass,’ but never once does it say, ‘It came to stay.’”
Mackay’s Moral: Attitude is the mind’s paintbrush – it can color any situation.