Since optimism can be learned, why is pessimism so rampant? Do we have any say in our attitude or is it simply, “just the way we are?”
“If you think you can do a thing or you think you can’t do a thing– you are right” ~Henry Ford
This now aligns in general with recent research in neuroscience. Pessimists are people who tend to see through a lens of pessimism and optimists have a brain bias that is toward optimism. Reality is not objective in these types of situations in particular. Your reality is real – to you. Life contains both and sometimes we get what we want and sometimes we don’t. The question is what meaning or story line do you assign to the outcomes that you see?
Is it one of what can be learned? What can you change? Do you just let your emotions swing you wildly out of control? Do you focus on what is missing or “wrong” or do you look for all the other great things in your life to be thankful for that you DO have?
You see, this choice of happiness or stress and overwhelm is within our control to a huge degree. Whether pessimism was learned or genetic, you can change it. We just have not known it was possible and we are just now learning how to consciously do it with more ease and less effort. I’m glad I had the courage to get a head start on the science…I have so much more emotional self-mastery now. Trusting intuition can be a beautiful and powerful thing.
Enhanced self-awareness and more skillful self-management are the foundations of emotional intelligence and are building blocks for optimism and resiliency. They are essential for maintaining motivation and preventing burnout. Research has shown that optimism is associated with enhancing intrinsic motivation and performance. It has a tendency to inspire others instead of discourage them.