Of course I look at the glass half full. The only time I would look at it half empty is when I think about how good the first half tasted. ~Drew Deyoung
Optimism and pessimism are two ways to view the world. You hear so much about thinking positively by using an optimistic outlook. Society has labeled optimism as good, while pessimism is deemed bad. Balancing the two opposite ways of thinking can be a battle. The tendency is for minds to go the extremes, being an intense optimist or pessimist. What if there was a way to use them both to your advantage?
Optimists are the people who see big plans for the future. They are clear about what they want and have a plan to get the job done. Simply put, optimism is that there is a belief that there is good in life. This viewpoint includes that good prevails in situations. Optimism keeps you motivated to get the next task finished. Affirmations are used as a tool to stay positive in a stressful world. A pessimist is someone who defend that they are always prepared for every situation. They have thought out scenarios and what-if situations.
There’s a double-edged sword for both camps of thinking. Optimism can be taken to extremes, denying a problem even exists. For example, thinking “I’m healthy” while denying symptoms of a health problem delaying proper medical care. Extreme pessimists are ready to receive the worst news ever, leading to feeling hopeless and helpless in life. I had a friend tell me that if he braced himself for the worst then he would never be disappointed. As you can see, thinking the worst that can happen turns into a way to cope with issues as well.
Have people turned into optimistic pessimists, hoping for the best and preparing for the worst? I wonder what type of mental acrobatics we get accustomed to when under stress. It’s too easy to let thoughts become distracted with ways to deal with financial, relationship and work issues. There’s another option, which is keeping your mind in the present moment.
High stress levels happen when you allow your view to become skewed to one end of the spectrum to the other. So allow yourself an option of a balanced viewpoint:
• Stay in the moment. Don’t let the past skew your thinking or get too caught up in the “what if” game.
• Be clear about the facts of the situation. Write all of the issues down so you can truly see what the situation is in front of you. Consult with trusted people about the stressor.
• Be proactive. Make the best decision about your next step. Empower yourself to address the situation.
For over 25 years in the health care profession, Lisa Birnesser has studied stress relief techniques and have helped hundreds of people reduce stress in their lives. Lisa specializes in stress management coaching by helping people do what matters most every day.
14 thoughts on “The Mindset Trap: Are you an Optimist or a Pessimist?”
As with all we do in life we humans do have to have balance:) Living in denial and pretending life is a bed of roses doesn't allow us to feel the pain of failure for example..How would we learn without that? I consider myself a positive person, who avoids such things as the news, negative people and newspapers..BUT I am very real too. Life is not always what we need it to be. Its our reaction to it that counts 🙂 Great article Lisa!
Our reaction is what counts. it’s the part we can control. Denial is truly putting off the inevitable. Thanks so much, Anita!
Someone once told me that by not expecting anything they would never be disappointed. Being the optimist that I have always been, I didn't buy it. On the other hand, I'm not the optimist that denies the facts either. As with all things, you have to find your healthy balance. Love how you pointed out both sides of the coin here Lisa!
Hope for the best, prepare for the worst and live according to the current reality, accepting it for what it is, changing what you can and not stressing over that what you can't change….
Right on, Leah. Thanks for stopping by!
Of course I look at the glass half full. The only time I would look at it half empty is when I think about how good the first half tasted. ~Drew DeyoungOf course I look at the glass half full. The only time I would look at it half empty is when I think about how good the first half tasted. ~Drew Deyoung
This is my new favorite quote, I'm reposting on Twitter. Great article!
I love this "Of course I look at the glass half full. The only time I would look at it half empty is when I think about how good the first half tasted. ~Drew Deyoung
I found it and thought it was perfect. Thanks, Kim!
Great opening question "What if there was a way to use them both to your advantage?" There is an advantage to both. Thanks Lisa!
Great article Lisa and a great reminder to seek balance! Thanks for sharing!
Great post Lisa, I love the opening quote! I am definitely an optimist, but you make a great quote about maintaining balance. Ignoring something that needs change or attention because you are a die-hard optimist is akin to sticking your head in the sand.
Living with the glass half full while my hubby sees life the other way. I suppose it's a perception one believes and for some continues to believe. I want to believe things before they even happen. Others want to see it to believe it. So maybe I choose to be optimistic. I would say yes and glad to have that mindset. Great post Lisa.
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