Free Articles  >>  Psychology >>  Page 9  >> 

Can You be an Optimistic Realist

Can You be an Optimistic Realist?   by Susan Dunn, MA, Life & EQ Coach

One question you might have when you read this title is, “Why I want to be an optimist?” Or, even, “How could I be optimistic with life the way it is?” or “Who could be an optimist in today’s world?

And “today’s world” may mean to you that office you work in that’s so hopelessly understaffed and disorganized, or your inept boss, or terrorism, starvation and violence in the world, your personal inadequacies for facing your personal challenges, the lack of help around the house, your hyper 2 year old twin boys, spending your days reeling among the emotional states of your teenagers, your midlife-crisis spouse, and your aging mother, or any of the above.

I was reminded of this dilemma when I was cornered the other morning by a young woman who needed to get in my face about the fact that her husband had gotten in her face that morning about the “idiocy” of watching the Prince Charles thing when there were more important things going on in the world.

By the end of his tirade he had listed terrorism, cancer, the national budget crisis, and the legal system as things more worthy of our attention that were, at the same time, hopelessly screwed up. By the end of his tirade, her husband’s “pessimistic attitude” had been added to the list, as having “ruined” her day. And, had I allowed it, I could’ve added to the list that her retelling of the war story had “ruined” mine.

Let’s face it: it’s easier to be cynical. It’s also more realistic to be cynical.

If you’re the kind of person who has a need to be right, betting that the work project will be screwed up, that the marriage will never last, and that Bush will make another decision that will fail to make the world perfect are surer bets than the opposite.

And so, if you’re negative and pessimistic, you’ll more often be right. But look at what else you’ll get: you’ll attract to yourself people who feel the same way and will join you in a negative downward spiral; you’ll be quick to blame anything but yourself, leaving yourself feeling hopeless and helpless as well as angry; you’ll waste a lot of time belaboring the obvious; and you’ll also stress yourself and your immune system.

Negative thinking leads to negative emotions which bring on physiological reactions which can damage your health in the short-term and in the long-term.
Being optimistic doesn’t mean not being realistic.

It means making choices that influence outcomes, because they can also be self-fulfilling. If you’re sure your secretary is going to fail you again, she will. We are all influenced by the energy around us, and who can function when someone is hovering around them who thinks she or he is “an idiot”? Also, if you’re determined she will fail you, you must make that happen to defend your ego, and so what else can you think when it’s over? She failed you.

Realism would say – if you truly hired the wrong person, don’t be a victim. Take care of the problem.

If you hired a person who, like everyone else, has good days and bad, works in an imperfect system, has to try and read your mind and accommodate to your admittedly difficult disposition at times, and is over-worked, don’t play the victim – look at the system and see what you can do to make things work better, assuming (optimistically) that this is possible, i.e., things will never be perfect, but they can generally be improved upon, and YOU are the one to do it.

You could start, in that instance, with your own attitude and expectations.

In fact, if you want to make the world a better place, start with your secretary’s “world.” Get it?

Pragmatically speaking – that is, if you want to function in the real world – an optimistic view works better. It gives you the energy to make things happen, because it gives you positive emotional energy.

Functionally-speaking, it is wiser to be optimistic. Optimism is a tool, therefore. If you can still that voice in your head that says everything stinks, you can begin to see what you can do about things as they are, some of which, yes, “stink,” but not all.

If you’re plagued by the suffering of terrorism and tsunamis, for instance, set aside a time to figure out what YOU can do about them. You will quickly realize the dilemma of world leaders who actually have to do this on a grand scale; but you will also find small things you can do in your own world to address these ills. Call your local Red Cross. They’ve been waiting for your call.

IN THE MEANTIME, keep your own life going in a positive direction, with optimism. If you’re determined that you can’t be happy until all the ills of the world have been addressed, you’ll be a long time waiting. You will also fail to address what you can address, because of lamenting over larger things which basically are beyond your control.

If you want to turn around your attitude, turn your face in another direction. To focus on what’s right about things doesn’t mean you don’t KNOW what things are wrong, or how wrong they are. It means you’re making a choice about your own portion of the world, your responsibility in it, and your outlook.

Does it help “the world” if you go on a tirade first thing in the morning and dump all your frustration on your spouse? Of course not. Remember you and your spouse are also a part of “the world.”

From an objective position, the young man mentioned above has a good job, a nice home, plenty of food, clothing and necessities, and a lovely wife who was cheerful, lovely, and dressed to go to her job for the day. That’s a scene half the people in this will never have.

Optimism means, in the words of Faulkner, not “slaying the real for the unreal.” The moment this young man had was real, and it was good. Then he got into his own head and dragged up all the reasons he could think of to be unhappy; reasons which exist and are available to all of us, but so is the contentment of the immediate reality.

It’s almost like he takes pride in being able to figure out there are ills in the world, as if he were only one who knew this and were concerned about it.

For an example of what your self-talk does to you, consider this scenario. Let’s say Fred is feeling low. He thinks his life is impossible; it contains the usual array of hard work, too much stress, arguments with his wife and kids, a puppy that won’t get house-broken, and a home plumbing system that keeps backing up.

However, his job, wife and kids are all within “the normal range.” He walks outside and has a chat with his neighbor. The neighbor has a 23 year old son who is schizophrenic and lives with him and his wife. They are retired, living on a limited income, and suffering health problems. Most of us would say, “There but for the grace of God go I,” and go back inside with a prayer for the neighbor, but a sense of gratitude for our own set of problems, which is much smaller and somehow seems, now, more manageable.

Fred, the pessimist, however, goes back inside feeling lower than ever, having decided that if the world is that awful, why try at all.

Pessimism has its roots in our beliefs, which feed into our expectations. If a perfect world is one of your beliefs, or the feeling that you can’t be happy until you live in a perfect world, why not take it out and have another look. Write down your core beliefs and then go over them with optimism and pessimism in mind.

Now, in Spanish there are two “to be” verbs. One, ser, means a permanent state, such as, I am a woman. Soy mujer. The other is for temporary states, such as, I am furious. Estoy enojada. English doesn’t make this distinction by means of different verbs, but I will close this using “be” in the ‘state’ sense, not ‘trait’ sense: You can be pessimistic [trait] and still survive. We all know people who are and do. But it may be necessary to be optimistic [state] if you want to thrive.

Learn about optimism and have it available. Be able to change your self-talk and attitude. This flexibility will develop your emotional intelligence, and in the long run, the happiness you save may be your own.

About Author Susan Dunn :

©Susan Dunn, MA, Life & EQ Coach, . Offering coaching, Internet courses and ebooks for your personal and professional development. I train and certify EQ coaches. for FREE ezine.

Article Source:
Article Url:

Other Articles by Susan Dunn

Being Optimistic v Wearing Rose Colored Glasses
by Susan Dunn, MA, Emotional Intelligence CoachDEFINITIONSBeing optimistic - Believing the doctrine that this world is the best possible world; having an inclination to put the most favorable construction upon actions and events or to anticipate the best possible outcomeRose-colored glasses - Putting the most favorable construction upon actions events and people and expecting the best possible outcome when common sense dictates this isn't possible or the reality is that it isn't happening....

11 Smart Choices You Can Make
   by Susan Dunn, M.A., Clinical Psychology1. Choose positive and kind self-talk. Train yourself to be your biggest fan.2. Surround yourself with the kind of people you want to be like, because that's what's going to happen.3. Do something solid with your hands every day, preferably something involving soil. It'll keep you sane and grounded.4. Improve your emotional intelligence (EQ) every day.It's a success and happiness skill you can do something about, unlike your IQ!5. Indulge yourself in...

The One Thing You Must Add to Your Day
by Susan Dunn, MA Psychology, The EQ CoachAs we close the gap between physical, mental and emotional health, realizing that they all influence one another, it’s becoming more evident that attitude makes a difference. It isn’t so much what’s happening, as how we feel about what’s happening. I’m reminded of a visit to my obstetrician some years ago, when pregnant with my second child and delighted. He told me how nice it was to have someone so happy in his office. “49% of my patients are...

11 Ways to Master Change
by Susan Dunn, MA, Emotional Intelligence Coach Change has become a constant for all of us, and not only do things change, they seem to change more rapidly all the time. How can you bolster your resilience to change and learn to manage it better? How can you keep “stress” from becoming “strain”? Here are some tips. 1. Label it immediately a transition.You are not lost in space (no longer a mother), nor at the end of the line (retirement), nor is it the end of the world (getting laid off). You...

Take Off the Rose Colored Glasses When Dating
   by Susan Dunn, MA, certified Emotional Intelligence CoachRobin was giving me an anatomy of her divorce. “There were signs,” she said. “Plenty of them. I just ignored them.”“The counselor told me to ignore how he treated other people,” said Manuela, “and concentrate on how he treated me. But one day I became ‘other people.’”It’s typical to do this in the early stages of dating and falling in love because, first of all it’s an exciting and complex process getting to know someone, and...

How to Get Organized
   by Susan Dunn, MA Clinical Psychology, THE EQ COACHI belong to a yahoogroup of coaches and right now the topic is how to get organized. One coach writes that he’s using Outlook Express for his email and email address list, Time & Order for his address book, calendar, datebook and to-do list (synchronizing, he says, between PS and daytimer), and MindMappit for brainstorming/lists.” Someone replies that they’re an infj and to remember to focus on people and relationships. A third one replies...

What Were You Expecting
?   by Susan Dunn, MA, Emotional Intelligence CoachThink back for a moment on the major and minor disappointments in your life. The reason they’re disappointments is because they didn’t live up to your expectations. You had something in mind that didn’t happen, or you wanted something you didn’t get. You also had made up your mind – if you think about it – that it was going to be horrible if you didn’t get it. You wanted the job and you didn’t get it, so you were disappointed. If you hadn’t...

The Top 10 Ways to Have an Emotionally Intelligent Night Before Christmas
by Susan Dunn, MA Clinical Psychology, cEQc, The EQ Coach™Use your EQ skills to have an enjoyable and manageable Christmas! With thanks to Clement Clark Moore.1. 'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the houseNot a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there. Keep Intentionality and Focus in mind. Christmas adds another full-time job to our already busy schedules. Your Intent, no doubt, is...

3 Things to Count on the First Weeks in a New Job and What to Do Around Them
3 Things to Count on the First Weeks in a New Job (and What to Do Around Them) by : Susan Dunn, MA, Emotional Intelligence Coach & ConsultantHere are three things typical of your first weeks on a new job. 1. You will get sick.2. You will find out you were lied to.3. You will have a mini-crisis at home.There. Now that you have the proper expectations, it will be easier. If these don't happen to you, be pleasantly surprised. If they do, here are some tips.RULE NO. 1: YOU WILL GET SICKWhy do so...

Ways to Increase Your Personal Power through Emotional Intelligence
   by Susan Dunn, MA, Emotional Intelligence Coach & ConsultantPersonal Power is an Emotional Intelligence (EQ) competency you’re probably familiar with by another name. It’s your sense of being able to handle yourself and your life. It’s the opposite of the “victim” position, where you feel helpless and hopeless. Instead, when you’ve developed your Personal Power, you feel confidant to help yourself, and to ask for help when you need it, and you feel positive about outcomes. You are more...

Publishers / Webmasters
Article ID: 22071
DELINK URL from Authors Bio
REMOVE Article
Tell A Friend
Leave A Comment!
Download this article in PDF
Report Article!
Search through all the articles:

130 Users Online !
Related Articles:
Latest Articles:
Psychology >> Top 50 Articles on Psychology
Category - >
Advertising Advice Affiliate Programs Automobiles
Be Your Own Mentor Careers Communication Consumers
CopyWriting Crime Domain Names DoT com Entrepreneur Corner
Ebooks Ecommerce Education Email
Entertainment Environment Family Finance And Business
Food & Drink Gardening Health & Fitness Hobbies
Home Business Home Improvement Humour House Holds
Internet And Computers Kiddos and Teens Legal Matters Mail Order
Management Marketing Marriage MetaPhysical
Motivational MultiMedia Multi Level Marketing NewsLetters
Pets Psychology Religion Parenting
Politics Sales Science Search Engine Optimization
Site Promotion Sports Technology Travel
Web Development Web Hosting WeightLoss Women's Corner
Writing Miscellaneous Articles Real Estate Arts And Crafts

Disclaimer: The information presented and opinions expressed in the articles are those of the authors
and do not necessarily represent the views of and/or its owners.

Copyright © AwareINDIA. All rights reserved || Privacy Policy || Terms Of Use || Author Guidelines || Free Articles
FAQs Link To Us || Submit An Article || Free Downloads|| Contact Us || Site Map  || Advertise with Us ||
Click here for Special webhosting packages for visitors of this website only!
Vastu Shastra

Business eMail Hosting Provided By AwareIndia

Company IDS