Optimism may seem hard to come by when you consider recent world events. In a recent survey by the Pew Research Council, half of the Americans surveyed said they expect the future for the next generation to be worse, while only 24% said life will be better for the next generation. More and more people consider themselves as disillusioned and believe that being optimistic is naive and short-sided. The decline in optimism goes together with an increase of stress, anxiety and the general sentiment of “shoes going to drop in big number.”
The question…is optimism – the overall expectation for a good outcome in most areas of life – really a weakness, which makes us potentially complacent and unprepared for life’s challenges? Research seems to paint a different picture. In a study conducted by the University of North Carolina, almost 7000 students, who entered college in the 1960’s were tested for their optimistic or pessimist attitude towards life. During the next 40 years the most pessimistic people had a 42% higher rate of death than the most optimistic ones. Other studies demonstrated how optimism correlates with lower blood pressure, less heart-disease and a stronger immune system.
But the half-glass-full attitude doesn’t only benefit our health, it is also an asset for dealing with life in general. For example, when it comes to applying for a job, optimistic people tend to respond to being turned down by formulating a plan of action and asking other people for help and advice. Pessimists seem to give up faster and assume that they can do nothing to change the situation. Other studies found that salesmen, who had an optimistic attitude sold 37 % more in their first two years on the job, than those with a pessimistic view. On top of it, the pessimists were twice as likely to quit their job in their first year as were optimists. Research also revealed that people with a pessimistic attitude see set-backs more commonly as a result of personal deficits that will potentially block them in everything they do. Optimists however, perceive set-backs often as being caused by mistakes or problems, which they can fix or resolve.
Wouldn’t you agree that we feel the most vulnerable to problems, if we believe that we can do little or nothing to change them? But if we consider problems or obstacles as something we can resolve or overcome, they don’t appear as devastating. So the question isn’t so much whether optimism is a weakness. The real question is, can we afford to lose our optimism, especially now, when we are facing a multitude of global challenges?
I invite you to listen as world-renowned expert on optimism, David Mezzapelle. He is the bestselling author of Contagious Optimism, an uplifting book that has real stories from real people around the globe. The purpose is to help people find their silver linings no matter what they may be going through in life. After a long career in technology, Mezzapelle launched several companies and philanthropic initiatives, and he has served on various boards. Throughout his life, Mezzapelle encountered great peaks and valleys, for which he is grateful. He has always kept his glass “completely full.” Learn more at www.contagiousoptimism.com
And if you struggle with a more pessimistic or anxiety-driven mind-set, contact me to schedule a free consultation, so that we can talk more about how the work I am offering can help you build a stronger inner foundation of confidence, optimism and self-empowerment.