21 Mar This is the effective way to be an optimist if you struggle with thinking positive thoughts
via Fast Company by Haley Goldberg
“Just think positive thoughts.”
As someone with anxiety, I’ve heard that piece of well-intended advice a few times. Or, one of its cousins: “Just don’t think about the negative.” “Can’t you just not think about bad things?”
As a worrier, it all seems a bit counterintuitive. Why would I pretend that everything is going to be all effortless rainbows and sunshine, when I’ve been around the block enough to know that’s rarely the case? But it also gives me optimistic FOMO, leaving me worried (of course)–is everyone positive thinking without me?
The answer: I’m not alone in my negative thinking tendencies. We have over 50,000 thoughts each day, and it’s estimated that 70 to 80% of those thoughts are negative. We’re not wired to be in the “think happy thoughts only” camp.
But it turns out, there’s a middle ground that’s actually better to aim for–one that’s not all “happy thoughts only” but still maintains hope for the best. It’s called realistic optimism–and it’s so powerful, here at Shine we’re renaming Positive Thinking Day (September 13) to Realistic Optimism Day.
OPTIMISM, WITH A SIDE OF REALISM
Optimism isn’t just a good thing–it’s a necessary thing. It gives us the motivation and confidence we need to go after the things we seek.
But there are two ways to be an optimist: Unrealistic optimists believe good things will just happen–with less focus on their agency. While realistic optimists believe in their power to make good things happen, even through rough conditions.
“Realistic optimists…believe they will succeed, but also believe they have to make success happen—through things like effort, careful planning, persistence, and choosing the right strategies,” Heidi Grant explains in the Harvard Business Review. “They recognize the need for giving serious thought to how they will deal with obstacles. This preparation only increases their confidence in their own ability to get things done.”
Basically, it’s knowing your goal, trusting it can come true, but knowing it’ll happen because of your ability to put in the work and overcome inevitable obstacles. This kind of mindset, Grant explains, is much more beneficial than being an unrealistic optimist. The key difference between the two: With realistic optimism, we believe we can succeed–but we accept that it might be tough. And that belief actually sets us up for more success.
“Believing that the road to success will be rocky leads to greater success because it forces you to take action,” she writes. “People who are confident that they will succeed, and equally confident that success won’t come easily, put in more effort, plan how they’ll deal with problems before they arise, and persist longer in the face of difficulty.”
… keep reading the full & original article HERE