Optimists hold the following traits:
- Positive attitude
- Personally motivated
- Plan for action
- Look for solutions
- Actively choose success
- Take personal responsibility and go into problem solving mode
- Credit hard work
Pessimists on the other hand:
- Fear change
- Tend to be paranoid
- Blame external factors
- Have victim energy and thinking
- Credit luck
- Seek negative attention
Concept of Optimalism versus Perfectionism:
Optimalism is an attitude and approach to life that is fueled by a willingness to accept failure while remaining confident that success will follow. The individual tends to focus on more intrinsic, inward desires and is motivated by curiosity and a desire to learn.
Perfectionists on the other hand have a consistent and compulsive drive towards unattainable goals and values based solely in terms of accomplishment. They have underlying fear of failure, which can lead to depression and low productivity; and they are motivated by the need to consistently prove themselves worthy.
Benefits of a more positive attitude:
Success can be defined by 80% attitude and 20% aptitude. It is the difference between enjoying life or tolerating it, and someone with a more optimistic attitude towards success can see more opportunities before them. On the flip side, pessimists tend to be unhappy with their life and jobs, which negatively impacts their overall outlook. They require more sleep, find themselves sick more frequently, argue with their spouses more, have less patience, are unpleasant towards others and will tend to make more mistakes. Additionally, pessimists tend to exhibit more self-destructive behaviors such as over-eating or over-drinking, and feel that they are a victim to their environment or circumstances.
Role of Emotional Intelligence in Optimism / Positivity:
Individuals with higher level of Emotional Intelligence or EI tend to be more self-aware and can manage their reactions, emotions and thoughts more effectively to achieve more successful outcomes. They are able to recognize and effectively manage their emotions (self-awareness) as well as that of others (social awareness).
It has been said that your Emotional Quotient (EQ) is a greater predictor of your success than your IQ. Your IQ is set by the time you are 17 years old. However, your EQ remains variable throughout your life and is the key to being able to achieve higher levels of productivity, growth and self-satisfaction.
In considering your emotions, understand that emotions don’t carry a polarity (emotions are neither good or bad nor right or wrong...). It’s how we express the emotion that gives us a positive or a negative result. To put it into illustrative terms, when you strike a match, you have a flame. At that point, it is simply ‘heat’ that can be put towards different uses. How you choose to use this flame will determine if it is constructive (you choose to light a fire to cook a meal) or destructive (you choose to burn a house down). The energy (the ‘heat’) hasn’t shifted. The difference is in how you chose to use it.
To that end, the next time you have an emotional reaction, ask yourself what results you are looking for. This will determine how you choose to use the emotion that you have, and allow you greater control over the resulting behavior.
4 core skills to Emotional Intelligence:
- Self-awareness – when you are aware of your feelings, you begin to recognize the physical sensations attached to each emotion and what those feelings are signaling to you
- Self-management – ability to manage your moods and remain positive despite stress or set-backs
- Social awareness – includes empathy towards another individual
- Relationship management – social skills
Self-management is a critical area that tends to be challenging for many of us. Here are 7 keys to managing your emotions:
- Don’t ignore or minimize your emotions; own them
- Find your emotional triggers – learn to predict your responses
- Express feeling without being confrontational
- Let others know their feelings are legitimate and valid, like yours
- Remain neutral
- Stay positive; focus on what is working, not on what is wrong
- Be an active listener
Self-talk is a component of self-management. It may be surprising to learn that for many people, 70% of self-talk tends to be negative. We program ourselves to be negative by talking to ourselves and seeing ourselves in a very demeaning way. Positive self-talk focuses on the fact that you have choices and that you have an innate ability to solve your problems.
So how to turn negativity into positivity? Start by recognizing your negative self-talk and nip it in the bud. Plan your day and learn to visualize the positive – if you can’t create it in your mind, you won’t be able to create it in your reality (and on the flip side if you create a negative outcome in your mind, you are setting yourself up for a negative reality even before the day has taken place). When you encounter a challenge, tackle the problem immediately – it won’t go away later. But at the same time, recognize that a situation may be inflammatory and it might be best to have a cooling off period before tackling the issue. In other words, don’t avoid the issue. Rather, use your smarts to ensure a more positive outcome.
Finally, look for the bright side – it doesn’t do any good to concentrate on the bad things; re-focus your energy on what you want more of in your life.
Some final thoughts:
Your thoughts become self-fulfilling prophecies.
The Stockdale Paradox teaches us an important thing about optimism and positivity – retain the faith that you will prevail in the end, regardless of the difficulties, but at the same time, confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be. Sometimes the facts are what they are. Approach them head on and solve the problem. Just because things look bleak doesn’t mean that it has to remain so.
To avoid disillusionment and disappointment:
- Recognize the facts
- Take positive, proactive steps to create the reality you want
- Don’t dwell on the past or fear the future
- Establish goals and identify roadblocks
Ultimately recognize that crisis is temporary. In reality, there is no “end of the world” until it is the end of the world…literally. So take a step back, breathe and look for the solution.
Take off your victim blinders and ask yourself is this happening to you or for you?