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Optimism is Your Choice

By: for on Sept. 15, 2013
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"Optimism is not something emotional. Its a very practical tool, a mind set. It’s like a morning workout, an exercise."

Mr. NO

Before anything else, let me make my confession first: I am a converted pessimist. Yes, been there, seen that.

You calculate the situations, you run through it in your mind and immediately pin-point the weakest link, you know, the toughest part. And you know it’s gonna turn out bad. It seems people around you just can’t see the obvious, that’s why they need your realistic expertise. You spend time modelling it in your head and you can see why that particular idea wont work, or why this plan is a no go. Sounds familiar?

Four things:

  1. The patterns that you use to tell how the situation might turn out are your patterns. These are your personal experiences that you’ve accumulated throughout your life and that are now been projected by you on your future. It works lightning fast and it’s almost unconscious process for your brain. Thing is, these patterns have nothing to do with the reality. What used to be your past doesn’t have to be the future. The world runs on it’s own terms. Things might go the way you think, but they don’t necessarily have to, and pay attention here, most of the time the situation unfolds differently.
  2. It takes your emotional energy to run through the situations that might turn into a problem.  Your mind literally makes you live through moments that have not yet even happened! You waste a good deal of your nerve cells reflecting on things that don’t exist.
  3.  It blocks you from looking at a greater picture. When your brain does it’s trick hunting for possible difficulties, you tag the entire situation ‘bad’ when you see the first possible problem in it. What your brain does is, it cuts off from the main highway at the first ‘Trouble’ sign. Instead of looking at how you can make things work, you start cycling around how this particular thing might spoil everything.
  4. You reap the seed that you sow. The type of the energy or emotions that the situation stirs inside of you attracts the similar energy, people and situations from outside. Call it total voodoo, or evil eye, but you’ve been warned, you magnet that very outcome that you think of. And at some point you’ll find yourself surrounded by pessimists, which is no fun, believe me.

Now, to bang the final nail into a pessimist head, here is some stats that optimists are healthier and live longer.

Recent study: A 2012 Harvard School of Public Health study found that optimistic individuals had up to 50% less risk of having a first heart attack, stroke or other cardiovascular event than their less optimistic peers.


No, they are not born that way. They are not those permanently happy sanguine types filled with endorphins up to the neck. They have the same body as yours.  As Bottom Line Secrets puts it, “To some extent, that’s true—a person’s brain tends to be wired either toward optimism or pessimism. But these tendencies are reinforced by mental habits.”

Optimism is a Conscious Choice

In the words of Dyan Diamond, when something good happens to a pessimist, they often feel that it is somewhat random and it will not last.  When something less than loving happens to a pessimist, they often feel that it will last forever and that is just how life is.

When something less than loving happens to an optimist, they see it as simply a temporary thing.  They may see it as just a small part of life, just a little hiccup.  They will not take it personally.  They understand that it will not last forever.

How you think is up to you.  It’s you who decide to choose optimism or pessimism.

Optimism is an Everyday Practice

Optimism is not something emotional. It’s a very practical tool, a mind set. It’s like a morning workout, an exercise. It took you years to train your brain to look at the problems, now start training it to look at the opportunities. It takes time, but as they say, practice makes perfect.

  • First step is awareness. It works as a trap that you set for your own mind. Every time it runs through “Troubles, nay, not possible” you realise “Oops! I did it again!” Its all right, just tag it ‘Negative’, stop for a second and realise that it’s possible instead of telling yourself why it is not. In a coders world it is called Debugging. Stop a program and figure out why it’s not running well. Now give it a right direction and move on!
  • Surround yourself with positive people. Optimism is contagious. It’s an energy, it affects you whom you surround yourself with. It helps you to kick yourself out of gloomy state at the beginning, when you don’t have enough strength to do it yourself. Plus being with positive-minded folks is so much more fun!
  • Don’t compare yourself to others. They have their own situations and their own life tests to pass. Rather, take inspiration from them. The only person to compare yourself with is you. Compare yourself with who you used to be yesterday.
  • Be more flexible. Do something new—even if it’s as minor as taking a different route on your morning run or chatting with a neighbor you usually pass by with a nod. Each positive alteration in your routine helps to retrain your brain and builds the flexibility and creativity that characterize optimism.
  • Replace negative thoughts with positive ones. Forcefully at first. You’ll notice, it’s gonna be easier as you go. What are the positive thoughts? Wow, you are far out! But here, I’ve got something for you to start with, thanks toLeo Babauta:

Be grateful for your life, your gifts, and other people.

Focus on what you have, not on what you haven’t.

See bad things as a blessing in disguise.

See failure as a stepping stone to success.

I’ve personally noticed that being grateful is one of the key things on the way to change your mindset. I started doing it every night before going to sleep. Lay down, close my eyes and walk myself through the situations, things and people that I want to say my thank you to.

Optimism is a Result of Your Life Philosophy

It starts with appreciation of things that you have, but it goes farther. You start realising that you have this much of energy and this much time allotted to you in your life. You have certain skills that no one else has. You are here and now for a reason. Now find your goal that your guts are telling you is something worth living, and then every your move will find it’s right timing, every person you meet you’ll see as a teacher, every mistake would be a lesson that gives you the opportunity to do one more step up – closer to you goal. Now that is what I call Optimism.

About the Author: Maxim Varfolomeyev (Syam Gopal Das) is a filmmaker, a life hacker, techno nerd and spiritual seeker with life-long love for mountains and music. 

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