Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Optimum Optimism

One thing that affects the way we handle stress is our level of optimism. Optimism is often scorned in today’s world. Optimists dare not speak up, lest they be accused of having their heads in the clouds or not being in touch with reality. But if we see everything through a pessimistic eye, we will no doubt be stressed and cranky, not to mention unpleasant to be with. So how do we handle the natural everyday pessimism that just comes with the every day experience?

Being an optimist requires work, often a total shift in the way you think and process things. It is very easy to be a pessimist. It is, after all, our primary response. It’s only when we can evaluate and assess the information that we can be reasonable in our expectations.

Susan Dunn wrote an inspiring and informative article called,
Can You be an Optimistic Realist?

In it she says;

Pragmatically speaking – that is, if you want to function in the real world – an optimistic view works better.
It gives you the energy to make things happen, because it gives you positive emotional energy.

Functionally-speaking, it is wiser to be optimistic. Optimism is a tool, therefore. If you can still that voice in your head
that says everything stinks, you can begin to see what you can do about things as they are, some of which, yes, “stink,”
but not all.

Helen Keller, who had every reason to not be an optimist concurs.
“So my optimism is no mild and unreasoning satisfaction. A poet once said I must e happy because I did not see the bare, cold present, but lived in a beautiful dream; but that dream is the actual, the present. –not cold, but warm; not bare, but furnished with a thousand blessings. The very evil which the poet supposed would be a cruel disillusionment is necessary to the fullest knowledge of joy. Only by contact with evil could I have learned to feel by contrast the beauty of truth and love and goodness.” From Optimism: an essay

Pessimism is a product of the reptilian brain. It’s not easy but we can override it with higher brain functions, and not only be happier, but much more productive.

photo credit: Random 2008, Rahim Khoja


  1. Great post! I agree! When our glass is half empty that's when we most need to fill it up. :)

  2. Neat to see my work here. Thanks!
    Let's all help get rid of some of the strress.
    Thanks for all you do,

  3. Thanks, guys! Kristen, you are so right. Susan, thanks for writing such great work that I can quote from. I very much appreciate all you do.
    Everyone should check out Susan's site http://susandunn.cc/ where she writes all about EQ. I quote Susan extensively in my book. Her stuff is great!...b

  4. Hey, this is the way it ought to be for everyone! I couldn't live any other way!! Optimists are the true innovators, thinkers and 'gir er done-ers' :) I guarantee you that a pessimist didn't invent the light bulb or micro-processors!! EVERYONE should read this article! :)

  5. thanks, chris! you are right. grumpy people have a hard time thinking creatively....b

  6. Brooke, I love your dark, dark viewpoint of life!

  7. i speak the truth though, frau. there is no sense in being grumpy. b/c then, not only are you grumpy, but you are not getting much done ;)