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Apr 01 2010

Optimism: Do You Make The Choice?

For most, optimists are people who always see the proverbial glass as half-full.  In truth, however, optimism is not a passive way of looking at life – it is an active, daily choice.  Read on to learn about the word, ‘optimism’ and how to apply it to your own life.

The dictionary definition of optimism is “an inclination to put the most favorable construction upon actions and events or to anticipate the best possible outcome.”  I disagree with this on two very specific but important points; the first being that optimism is not simply being ‘inclined’ to think favorably or anticipate the best.  Optimists must constantly choose the harder road of believing and adapting.

To support this, consider that the word optimism comes from the Latin optimus, meaning, “best” – a fairly obvious connection – which in turn comes from the Latin optare, meaning, “to choose or prefer.”  Optimism is, therefore, actively “opting” to see the potential in any situation.  Which brings me to my second point: optimism is not just about “anticipating” outcomes or interpreting events.  Instead, true optimism is choosing to find the potential in every situation.

To give a recent, personal example, a best friend of mine desperately needed a ride at 6am last week – the morning of my day off from work.  Now, it’s a long drive, and I’m not a fast waker.  Which is why I was up and fumbling with the coffee maker…at 4:30am on my day off.  Yes, I know, I’m such a great friend.  But the point is that despite the inconvenience, I drank my coffee with a smile and started mentally sifting through topics to explore for blog posts when I got home.

The optimism here was not in anticipating a good outcome – nothing amazing was going to happen in the hour drive into town or the hour drive back.  Nor was it in simply “feeling good” about said drive.  Rather, I chose (knowing that I needed coffee to survive the highway but would not be able to get back to sleep after drinking it) to see the unexpected wakefulness in the morning hours as a chance to get some fun and productive writing done.

 

Optimism by lisa eatsa pizza

Everyone in an unfavorable position must make a choice.  You may sigh and do nothing, you may expend your energy railing against your circumstances, or you may choose to believe that there is some fortune to be had in your situation.  Grumbling is perfectly normal, as is cursing your luck, so long as you can move forward.

By practicing this actively and consistently, you will actually create opportunities that would not have been available without the perceived misfortune.  And before long it will be your default reaction, and you will be a much happier and ‘luckier’ person.

What negative situations have you managed to turn positive?

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Photo credits: Gruber: Glass half-full by jenny downing
Nice day in L.A. by tnachtrab

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