Everything was going my way last Thursday until one of my shortcomings punched me in the stomach.
How I wish I could recover from these blows easily. But I can't quite. Ask me in that moment to list ten things that went well just prior. I can do it, but the punch to the gut still eclipses the ten good. Living in anticipation of that one bad thing has resulted in my being a near-term pessimist. Optimists are hopeful about future outcomes. Underlying that hope is that there will be enough. Enough resources, whether money, praise, recognition. And the truth is, I don't believe there will be enough, at least as resolutely or frequently as I'd like. Sure, over the long-term I believe everything will work out. But in the very short-term, I tend to see the glass as half empty.
What I do believe, however, is that we can rewire how we view the world.
Perhaps that is why Tony Schwartz' article How I Became an Optimist resonated so strongly. In his blog post, he tells of when his business partner with whom he had just co-authored a bestseller, announced he was ready to move on. Taken aback, and given his pessmistic bent, Schwartz was inclined to wallow in his misfortune. With a young family to support, however, he had to decide if he could see the glass as half-full.
Having decided that he would become an optimist, every day for several months, Schwartz did the following:
- Wake up and write down what he was worrying about -- just the facts.
- Write down the story he was telling himself about the facts.
- Work to write the most conceivably optimistic story he could tell himself based on the same incontrovertible facts.
"A fact is irrefutable," Schwartz writes. "It can be objectively verified by any person. A story is something we weave to make sense of the facts. We are meaning making creatures. We seek to understand."
I've decided I'm going to do this too.
Every day for one month; I'll report back during Memorial Day Weekend.
Are you an optimist? Long-term? Near-term?
How does learning near-term optimism help you move toward your dreams?
In Kare Anderson's post Say It So You Lift Your Spirits she suggests that when we tell stories about our lives, we notice those incidents that are anchored with negative emotions, and then try to reframe them by searching for the redemptive details.
You may also enjoy Why Your Negative Outlook is Killing Your Career. It applies not just to a career, but to life. Take note of the first suggestion.