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Why choose optimism?

Updated: Jul 18, 2021

It's been a unique and very challenging 18months, so it seems like a fitting time to write about the power and importance of optimism. However, with so much still uncertain and at times overwhelming, some might ask how can we be optimistic at times like these?

My honest answer would be, what's the alternative? I don’t know of a single situation that was ever improved by being pessimistic about it. However, I do know, and scientific research backs it up, that when you develop and practice optimism, it can lead to a longer, healthier and happier life.

What optimism means to me:

Optimism is one of my values. For me it means looking for the good first, keeping an open mind and not leaping to negative conclusions or making assumptions. It’s about giving "good" a chance to show up.

Now some may say that optimism can make you naïve or idealistic. I’d challenge that. For me, optimism isn’t fake positivity - it’s not saying that things are great when they’re not, or the belief that somehow things will magically become great. It’s recognising things as they are now and responding wisely to that. It’s about being resilient and positive, while firmly grounded in reality.

Optimism is recognising that nothing is permanent and that the positive actions I take today will help shape the future for the better; for me and others. So If times are hard, it helps me recognise that it will pass, and if times are great, I try and make sure I soak up every bit of enjoyment from it, in the knowledge that it will pass too.

When you’re optimistic, you accept that you can't control everything and know when and what to let go of. (For example, not getting sucked into the perpetual cycle of negative news). It’s accepting the things we can't change and directing our efforts to what we can. This is something we all need help managing right now! There's so much going on in the world that feels out of our control. Focussing on the things that you can affect, no matter how small, is optimism.

Why choose optimism?

When things are tough and you’re really up against it, it’s easier to assume and prepare for more of the same. It’s a kind of defence mechanism.

But there is another choice, you can choose optimism. And far from being naïve or unproven, there’s an abundance of scientific research that shows the transformative impact optimism has on so many areas of our lives. Here are just 4 reasons why you should choose optimism....