We all understand what optimism and pessimism mean. However, for this blog to bring everyone on the same page, I chose the definition by Martin Seligman, Ph.D., the founder of Positive Psychology. He defines optimism as reacting to issues with a sense of confidence and high personal ability. Specifically, optimistic people believe that adverse events are temporary, limited in scope (as opposed to present in every aspect of a person’s life), and manageable.
Winston Churchill explains it best in his famous quote: “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”
Even if you don’t consider yourself an optimist you surely must know one. For me, it was my grandfather. No matter what life threw at him: war, communist regime prosecution or other hardships, he had always remained positive and believed that things would get better. Looking back at my childhood now, I know that it was he who taught me how to see the glass half full.
There is a multitude of benefits of being an optimist. Let’s explore the ones that are a crucial part of your success in business.
In a study of 99 Harvard University students, those who were optimists at age 25 were significantly healthier at ages 45 and 60 than those who were pessimists.
In turns out that optimistic people have better mental and physical health because:
• They look at difficulties in their lives as external things that happen and will pass. Optimists experience less distress than pessimists when dealing with them. That is why they suffer much less anxiety and depression;
• They also adapt better to negative events, which allows them to recover quicker from common sicknesses or even more severe ones, for example, coronary artery bypass surgery;
• Optimists report having more health-promoting habits like eating a healthy diet, being active or having regular medical check-ups;
• It comes as no surprise then than optimists tend to live longer as well.
And as evident as it is, I will still say it. Our health is the most important gift we have. It’s hard to lead any business if we are physically or mentally unable to do it.
Optimistic people tend to be more productive as they set goals, make plans to achieve them and are not scared to put them into action. Combine that with the fact that they do not to give up easily, hoping that the situation can be handled successfully in one way or another, no wonder they achieve more than pessimists.
Moreover, optimists are more resilient in the face of adversity. They treat failure as part of life, the opportunity for improvement, which in turn helps them to learn and keep moving closer to achieving their goals.
Optimists take Benjamin Franklin’s words to heart: “Do not anticipate trouble or worry about what may never happen. Keep in the sunlight.”
Another benefit of being optimistic is that your positive outlook makes you a better leader. Why?
Because people are naturally drawn to leaders that are upbeat and have a positive attitude a see the world as a glass half full; on top, moods are contagious, so no surprise that no one wants to hang out with downers, especially at work.
Imagine having to work for a boss that always complains and thinks that nothing will ever get better. How demotivating is that? Or a CEO who does not have faith in the success of the business they lead … How can they inspire people to follow their vision with such attitude? Ridiculous right?
Still not convinced?
What about analyzing the results of presidential elections then? It turns out that 85% of the US presidential elections over the past century were won by the more optimistic candidate.
That’s is why, if you re a leader or aspire to be one, optimism is essential to your success.
Now that hopefully, you are excited about the benefits of optimism, you will ask me: OK, but what if I am more of “a glass-half-empty: type of person? What do I do?
Can Optimism can be learned?
Research and literature published by Martin Seligman prove that it can. If you want to take on the challenge, read his book “Learned Optimism. How to Change Your Mind and Your Life”.
Additionally, since we are talking business here, I’d like you to consider optimism as one of your strategies to achieve business success.
“Optimism is a strategy for making a better future. Because unless you believe that the future can be better, you are unlikely to step up and take responsibility for making it so.”―Noam Chomsky
Convinced now but do not want to read an entire book? That’s OK, let me then share with you the below five quick tips on how to improve your positive outlook:
• Practice gratitude daily;
• Practice acts of kindness, doing good to people and expecting nothing in return;
• Develop a positive mindset by using your imagination to rehearse success (Michael Jordan technique) and treating setbacks as the beginning of growth, opportunities for improvement that jumpstart you to success;
• Grow your leadership skills; don’t know how? I can help! Click here and let’s chat 😊
• Set goals, find ways to achieve them and then just do it! Don’t know where to start? Here is a read that can help you, just click.
Following these strategies will give you hope (a key component of optimism) but also show your brain what to look for. It’s hard to drive a car to a destination if you don’t know the directions. By the same token, your brain needs guidance to bring you to success; otherwise, it will wander allowing your life to be taken over by other people’s agendas and priorities.
“One of the things I learned the hard way was that it doesn’t pay to get discouraged. Keeping busy and making optimism a way of life can restore your faith in yourself.”―Lucille Ball
In summary, if you are a natural optimist – that’s great, keep going and never lose it! If you are not, don’t worry it’s not yet all lost. Learning how to practice optimism will help you improve your health, become a better leader and achieve greater success in business…
(..and pssst don’t tell anyone but in personal life as well!)