I am a confessed optimist. I am not a realist, nor am I even a plain optimist. I am a flaming optimist. The glass for me is not just half full; it is completely full. Always. I go into every situation with eyes wide open, and I always expect the outcome to be the best. The focus of this blog post is to share my experiences and to show that a positive attitude can have physical and mental health benefits.
Expect the Best
Optimism comes from the Latin word “optimus” meaning “best.” Optimists always expect the best in every situation. It does not necessarily mean that they are perfectionists and get upset when things don’t go well. On the contrary, they are able to deal with adversity objectively, knowing that “this too shall pass.” If you always expect the worst, you will often get the worst. Conversely, if you expect the best, you will receive the best. Some dismiss this as a mind trick, but it does work.
This may seem trivial, but regular practice goes a long way towards developing a positive attitude and optimism. Often, we have a tendency to focus on the negative things in life, but I challenge you to find something, however small, that you are genuinely grateful for. My wife often asks me what color the sky is in my world. My answer is always the same, “It’s blue, it’s always blue!” Even when it is raining, I try to think about the benefits of rain rather than focusing on my own discomfort. (This is not always easy to do when it is pouring). Once you develop a strong position of gratitude, you can then pass it along to others to help them on their journey. This has benefits for you and for others. Optimism is contagious!
According to a recent article from the Mayo Clinic, researchers are finding the following benefits attributed to optimism and a positive attitude:
- Increased life span,
- Lower rates of depression,
- Lower levels of distress,
- Greater resistance to the common cold,
- Better psychological and physical well-being, and
- Better coping skills during times of stress.
Researchers are finding that a positive attitude leads to better health, which leads to a more positive outlook on life. It is a reinforcing cycle!
Are you an optimist? If not, I would invite you to try it out and see if it doesn’t improve your outlook. Find one thing that you are grateful for and focus on it. Gradually add other things in your life that you are grateful for and soon you will be expecting positive things to come to you. If you are already an optimist, let me know what you do to keep a positive attitude. If you are just starting your journey towards optimism, let me know how it is going! By all means, pass along your positive attitude to others.
Kelly Brown is an IT professional, adjunct faculty for the University of Oregon, and academic director of the UO Applied Information Management Master’s Degree Program . He writes about IT and business topics that keep him up at night.