From the Maiden, to the Mother and now entering my final phase of Womanhood as the Sage. It’s this phase of life that one would think everything really comes together, that challenges are less problematic because acquired experience and wisdom provide all the things we need to live a joyful, fulfilled life.
It’s not that way. Not at all. Yes, lived experience and witnessing the things we’ve seen through our live phases certainly provide deep levels and layers of knowledge, understanding and insight but when we’re on a life path to continue to grow and evolve throughout our lifetime, we understand that as a student of life, we must always embrace new ways of thinking and being.
One of the things I’ve noted when wondering why people’s lives have turned out like they have (and this comes from knowing many people from all walks of life for up to 50+ years) is that someone who is an optimist experiences greater success and satisfaction with their life. By this I mean they are more resilient, have better wellbeing habits and practices and they are better able to be a leader of their life than someone who chooses to ‘be positive’. Thinking positively can be better than being a pessimist or negative however research has shown positivity can become toxic and escapist if not applied with clarity, a solutions focus and a good dose of realism.
Getting one’s mind in good shape and knowing ourselves well enough to call bullshit on our thoughts, to know when we’re being negative or falsely positive is necessary to lead ourselves through a life that is meaningful. I’m going to be talking more about this, I’m interested in what you have to say – where have you seen and experienced the escapism toxic positivity can cultivate?
What does optimism provide?
Optimism provides us with greater resilience, more resources and confidence than being positive.
Jim Collins, author of ‘Good to Great’ said that when optimism is balanced with realism, we can achieve successful outcomes.A psychologist named Ed helped me through a tough time 20 years ago telling me to always plan for the worst and expect the best. This is great advice because when we adapt this practice, we can assess all of the risks and opportunities with a hopefulness and confidence about our future success. While we can’t control the outcome, we certainly can influence our place within it.
When being optimistically realistic about challenges rather than pushing away negative thoughts and hoping the situation will go away, we become the Captain of our ship, navigating our way through the storm. When we’re the Captain, we choose the destination rather than allowing the storm to set us down at some random place. Optimism provides us with clarity, a considered approach and use of the resources available to us, helping us to respond rather than react as we sail to calmer waters.
Just like having the best navigational equipment available on board to guide us, being a realist combined with a positive mindset that we can get to wherever we want to be from where we are teaches us resilience, agility, and adaptability. These three things are born from optimism, there’s more to it of course but when navigating the treacherous waters of life to more calm and peaceful inlets, they’re invaluable traits to manifest and call upon at will.
We can teach our minds to become more optimistically focused. It takes practice. It’s an ongoing process throughout your life. It’s not always easy but it’s totally possible. Is your mind in shape and fit enough to help you practice the lifetime benefits of optimism?
Shaping the mind to think objectively and optimistically
Thinking optimistically when life is throwing us major curve balls can be tricky. The human experience for many is to become fearful, anxious, overwhelmed, angry and discouraged and our negative, pessimistic voices become quite noisy.
When we’ve shaped our mind to be optimistic and trained it to start automatically thinking that way, it doesn’t mean we don’t have a negative human experience it means we can step back from the situation and view the good, the bad, the ugly and beautiful. We explore the worst possible things that can happen, and risk rate them. We develop a solution for the way forward and, knowing we’ve considered our options we can confidently have faith that our responsive approach is one of great personal power.
Some of us choose to be negative and pessimistic, not seeing the good in any situation, we end up living a self-fulfilling prophecy of misery and dismay. Research has found the positivity brigade has created an escapist culture of toxic positivity for some of us and this can eventually lead to great sadness and discouragement.
One of the most powerful lessons in life is that it’s filled to the brim with choice. We can choose to get our minds into good shape and become more optimistic about life. There are many tools to assist with this. It doesn’t happen overnight; we must work at it. The effort is worth it. Developing a curious mind that asks what else is possible, seeks ways to maximise the best outcomes and confidently applies faith-backed action can lead us to a powerful and joyful life.
Is there a sense of pride and achievement you can tap into, a time when you confidently had faith that something you were doing was the right thing, the right path? If your answer was yes, are you replicating that in all of the things you do?
The benefits of optimism
My clients know I’m not one for ‘thinking positively’ because I’ve seen too many times the despair that thinking everything will improve without a plan of action can create. This way of thinking is escapism, and it doesn’t serve us. We look at others and think their good fortune is based on luck but on closer inspection we can see this luck has usually been manifested by a plan, faith, and action. In essence, there’s been a certain level of optimism applied!
𝐆𝐫𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐭𝐮𝐝𝐞 is a key tool for optimists. There’s a reason so many people are talking about it and that’s because its simple and it works! Gratitude isn’t just about being thankful for what we have, it’s understanding and taking the time to consider why we’re thankful.
𝐑𝐞𝐟𝐥𝐞𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 is a part of gratitude and it’s important because as we review our day and note the things that went well, we can also note the things that didn’t go so well and assess how we could have done better emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Taking the time to reflect in this way helps us strive for better and is an essential practice for anyone leading others or themselves through life.
𝐂𝐥𝐚𝐫𝐢𝐭𝐲 is essential for a practising optimist because we understand where we are, we know where we want to go, and we develop plans to get to there from here. One foot in gratitude, the other in desire, we have faith and confidence to move bravely in the direction of creating a life that is meaningful to us.
Are you clear on what it means to you to have a meaningful life? Do you have an optimistic view of how you’re going to create it?
Objective optimism for leadership
Objective optimism is a great leadership tool that helps you to better lead yourself in life, business, finances, health; all the things.
Own the situation you’re in and take responsibility.
Get clarity on your desired outcome.
Seek advice and help from others.
Explore all of the options, create a workable plan.
Move forward with one foot in desire and the foot in the present and adapt as opportunity arises.
Have faith things will turn out and back yourself all the way.
Enjoy the confidence your increased resilience, adaptability and agility create for you.
A life filled with RICHES is one where we learn to love ourselves completely and create great life choices. You can download Module 1 for free, click on the button below. For your free first module of our RICHES program, click here. If you want to work with me and learn ways to become the love of your life, head over to my booking page for a free Clarity Call.