Definition: A disposition or tendency to look on the more favorable side of events or conditions and to expect the most favorable outcome.

An optimist tends to look for good, no matter what the situation. Sounds like an easy task, right?

You’ve decided you want to make some changes in your life and you’ve identified your support system. You’re motivated and determined that this time you’ll succeed. Nothing is going to get in your way. But then . . . there are some days it seems as if everywhere you turn there is just constant chaos. Things never seem to turn out the way you plan them and everyone seems to be out to get you. You keep trying but aren’t sure what the point is anymore. People had told you, you wouldn’t be able to do it. It seems now as though they were right.

How does one go from being so optimistic to so pessimistic, so quickly? People who have faced hardship and had difficulty in their life can be easily reminded of their experiences. Past failures and shattered dreams can rule our thoughts very quickly if we let them. The more exposure and time we allow these negative thoughts to rule our mind and our brains, the more likely we are to continue to indulge in them.

So, it’s just that hopeless. If I’ve been a pessimist most of my life, I guess that is all I’ll ever be.

“It doesn’t pay to get discouraged. Keeping busy and making optimism a way of life can restore your faith in yourself.” – Lucille Ball

Optimism can be just as contagious as negative thinking. However, it often takes more practice and self-awareness to maintain. Optimism can suggest opportunity. Some opportunities can be more appealing than others; however, even negative experience hold some positive opportunities. Such experience suggests the ability to learn from your mistakes, grow from experience, and tell others about your ability to prevail.

“An optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” – Winston Churchill

It’s even possible to remain optimistic when others around you are pessimistic. You can think of this as your opportunity to share your wealth. Maybe you can help others overcome their inability to focus on the good in their life.

“If I can’t make it through one door, I’ll go through another door – or I’ll make a door. Something terrific will come no matter how dark the present.” – Rabindranath Tagore

What does one have to lose by being optimistic? Or, as the optimist would say, what does one have to gain by being optimistic? For one, confidence can be built by believing things can be done and things can get better. Secondly, friends can be made more easily as one focuses on the good qualities and characteristics in others. Finally, one’s mood and affect can be significantly impacted by maintaining an optimistic approach. It is likely you’ll smile, laugh, and feel more calm and relaxed.

“Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement.” – Helen Keller

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  • Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker
    Licensed Independent Mental Health Practitioner

  • Jody Johnson, LICSW, LIMHP, began working at Wholeness Healing Center as a therapist in 2007. Jody graduated from the University of Nebraska at Omaha with her Masters in Social Work.  She received her bachelor degree in Social Work from the University of Nebraska at Kearney.


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