ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Sunny Side Up: Secrets of Optimists

Updated on May 5, 2016

What's "Up" With Optimism?

Optimism is defined as, "A disposition or tendency to look on the more favorable side of events or conditions and to expect the most favorable outcome; the belief that good ultimately predominates over evil in the world; the belief that goodness pervades reality". Those who see themselves as optimists are always looking for and expecting to find the good in any situation, and on the whole, tend to be happier and more satisfied people. They are the "glass is always half-full" thinkers. Even in the light of tragedy, optimistic people are there to raise everyone else's spirits and keep things moving forward. Optimism is the belief that things will be better in the future, just like little orphan Annie singing, "the sun'll come out- tomorrow".

Is Optimism Nature or Nurture?

Technically, optimism is both an evolutionary adaptation and a learned behavior. If humans didn't have the capacity to hope for a better future, then the species would've died out long ago because our forebears wouldn't have felt the need to reproduce. It is also a learned behavior; somewhere along the way, an optimist was shown how to look for the positive side of things, even if it was by subtle means. Even though our ancestors recognized that rationally death would eventually come to all beings, the irrational notion of being optimistic about the future is what kept propelling the species forward; so technically our brains are hardwired to be optimistic because that is what tells us not to give up.

The Benefits of Being Optimistic

Aside from being more upbeat, what other advantages do optimistic people have over pessimistic people? A number of studies have shown that optimists tend to work longer hours and earn more, as well as save more money than their pessimistic counterparts. Physically, optimists tend to have lower stress levels, better cardiac function and are more likely to recover from certain diseases. They are also more likely to stick to healthy diets and take vitamins. So quite literally, a person's mindset can improve their general health and overall well-being, even though they are just as likely as the next person to get sick.

How Do They Do It?

So how do optimistic people continually find the good in every situation when there is so much negativity around? When the news is constantly filled with stories of disasters and tragedies, it would seem that the world is a very harsh and depressing place, and it is; optimists don't have anything wrong with their perception of reality. They don't go skipping around in La-La Land with their heads in the clouds, paying no attention to the negative things around them. Optimists are just as grounded in reality as pessimistic people, but the difference is in their perspective, or how they view external events.

A pessimist is one who makes difficulties of his opportunities and an optimist is one who makes opportunities of his difficulties.

— Harry Truman

Secret #1- "Things Could Always Be Worse"

When faced with a negative situation, an optimistic person's first reaction is usually, "Well, things could always be worse". An optimist uses their brain's natural ability to imagine a situation that could be far worse than what they are currently experiencing, while a pessimist focuses only on the present negativity. For example, if both an optimist and pessimist were in a fender bender, the optimist would say, "Wow, that could've been much worse; at least no one was injured". The pessimist would say, "Just look at my car! This is a disaster!" The optimist can visualize in their head a much worse car accident, such as one with significant injuries, and compare it to the present situation, which doesn't seem as bad. This ability to compare what is to what could be helps the optimist process the event and move forward with what needs to be done.

Secret #2- Be Grateful

Optimistic people tend to be grateful for what they have, instead of constantly wishing they had something else. That's not to say that optimistic people don't wish for things or different circumstances, but they tend to be more satisfied with what they already have. They understand that whatever situation they are currently in is temporary and likely to improve in the future, so if they can be satisfied with the moment, then they will be even happier when their situation improves. By contrast, pessimistic people tend to say things like, "If only I had ____, I would be happier", and depend more on outside influences to make them happy; optimists find contentment within themselves.

Secret # 3- Don't Sweat the Small Stuff

Optimistic people have the ability to quickly analyze a situation and decide if it is a priority or not. They typically don't get themselves worked up over small problems that are easily solved or can be put aside to be dealt with later, and instead save their mental energy for dealing with very big problems. Going back to the example of the fender bender, an optimist might see a dent in the door and immediately assess the situation to see if whether or not it poses an emergency situation. If the door still opens and shuts properly and no major damage has occurred, then the worry is laid aside to be dealt with at another time. On the flip side, a pessimist might see the same dent and worry themselves to death until it is fixed, expecting the worst possible outcome (such as the car would be totaled).

Life is a shipwreck but we must not forget to sing in the lifeboats.

— Voltaire

Secret #4- Learn From Everything

Optimists use every situation, whether good or bad, as an opportunity to learn and grow. Instead of the pessimistic view of saying, "Why does this always happen to me?", the optimistic person says, "What can I learn from this experience?" The optimist understands that they are just a very small player on the universal stage and that the world does not revolve around them; therefore, there is no feeling that the world conspires against them to make negative things happen. Optimists realize that negative things happen regardless because there are larger forces at work. Instead of thinking the world is out to get them, optimistic people tend to think that the world is trying to help them understand some universal truth through their experience.

So Now What?

There are certainly a lot of perks to being an optimist and "staying on the sunny side of life". Optimistic people are generally less stressed because they can take things in stride; they are more content because they are thankful for the blessings they already have; they are usually healthier because they tend to take better care of themselves; they are more resilient at overcoming failures and losses because they have faith that their situation will improve; they work longer and earn more because they can visualize being in a more positive place in the future; and they benefit from observing how they can learn from negative experiences.

If a person isn't in the positive place they want to be in life, perhaps they should take a word of advice from an optimist and "chin up buttercup"!

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)