Research Highlight: Optimism is a super skill
95% of the most successful 10% of people scored “I think and communicate with optimism” with ‘very often’ or ‘nearly always’ (in a sample of 21,000).
The human mind is Velcro for the negative. Based on a high threat environment, a negative and threatening explanation might have been advantageous. Today, pessimism disables you.
Only 9% of the least resilient people score optimism with ‘very often’ or ‘nearly always’.
Question: How can I explain this adversity in one enabling sentence?
Condition: Notice but reject the easy negative self-talk
Discipline: Think and express yourself with positive language
Caution: Our times are testing. This will take courage.
What you can do right now?
- Ask someone close if you are optimistic or pessimistic. Explore an example
- Watch the content of your thoughts. Notice the words you choose to make sense of a situation. For example: “This always happens to me”
- Explore different ways to express the situation. For example: “What could I do differently” Notice the shift from blame to responsibility.
- Be alert for positive news. Some suggest that we aim to express at least three positive observations for every complaint.
In the background:
- Fatigue, isolation and distress will reduce optimism
- Sleep well, be social, relax and play
- Nurture your positive emotions – joy, gratitude, appreciation, hope, kindness
Note: With the current social instability, political malaise and climate risk, the value and importance of optimism will increase. It is well proven that optimism can be learned and has wide ranging personal and economic benefits. Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) is proven an effective solution to depression. We use the term situational agility to describe the healthy and adaptive use of the optimism in key situations.