Optimist – to be or not to be

One of the words that I have heard over the last few years neatly describes a trait required for us to survive the ups and downs of business and personal life – ‘bouncebackability’.

Whilst I recognise that this is a completely made up word, it struck a chord with me.

When facing challenges it appears to me that the ‘easy route’ is to bemoan ones luck and come to the rather dreary conclusion that the world is against you. If you are in business, it’s easy to conclude that ‘nobody is buying’ today, this week, this month..etc. Sometimes we have an inclination to focus on the negatives and in doing so we can miss the opportunities that have been created.Web

In business and in life, your reaction to situations, good or bad, have a direct correlation to what happens next. Your attitudes and your beliefs have a major impact on whether you can ‘bounce back’ or whether you ‘spiral’. The amazing thing is this; of the people I have met so far in my life, those who can maintain an optimistic and positive outlook remain in control and can bounce back. Those who are pessimistic and negative seem to struggle to maintain control whilst falling ‘victim’ to a further series of unfortunate events (spiralling).

The attitude you decide to bring to your life has a direct impact on the events that happen for you, against you, with you… without you.

Being optimistic does not mean living in the world of ‘Polyanna’! it means that you have decided to keep a positive perspective on events, recognising what elements were within your control (thus learning valuable lessons) and the elements that were outside of your control (thus letting go of the negatives).

The optimists that I know always learn lessons, spot opportunities, adapt and move on smarter. Sadly the pessimists blame everyone else and decide that ‘poor me syndrome’ is the best option.

As always, it’s your choice. You have more control than you give yourself credit for… go and make great stuff happen!!

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4 Responses to Optimist – to be or not to be

  1. Gary Sage says:

    For me Optimism is always a To Be even if not to be is the To Be

  2. Cliff Moyce says:

    Phil you mention attitudes and beliefs, but where do you think these come from? Do you think pessimism / optimism are personality traits (either in their own right or the products thereof), or do you think they are learned habits (and can therefore be corrected)?

    • Hi Cliff

      Thanks for your comments and questions. From what I have learned, via a myriad of teachers and my own experiences, I have come to the conclusion that optimism and pessimism are learned behaviours and therefore can be modified… IF one chooses to make modifications. What are your thoughts on nature v nurture?

  3. Cliff Moyce says:

    I agree.

    My own studies and research tell me that life long negative affect (emotion) has been shown to be a trait rather than a state, and therefore difficult to change. Though underlying negative affect can make you more prone to pessimistic thinking and behaviours, it does not follow automatically. You are not condemned to handle difficult situations badly for the rest of your life; it just means that you ‘benefit’ from a highly realistic view of the world and are not prone to unfounded optimism.

    In fact, it is neuroticism – rather than affect – that is a better indicator of destructive negative thinking and behaviours such as pessimism and catastrophising.

    How we react to situations and behave subsequently is definitely a learned behaviour and can be changed. Correcting faulty thinking such as catastrophising, can be done with a little persistence and a good coach to hold up a mirror to what you are doing and (more importantly) what you are saying to yourself while you are doing it (because that’s how the learning takes place). Learning to handle difficult situations well is highly beneficial at work IMHO and is usually encapsulated in the phrase ‘robustness’.


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