A Coaching Power Tool created by Raluca Paun
(Executive Coaching, ROMANIA)
Optimism is a mental attitude or world view that interprets situations and events as being best (optimized), meaning that in some way for factors that may not be fully comprehended, the present moment is in an optimum state. The word is originally derived from the Latin optimum, meaning “best.” Being optimistic, in the typical sense of the word, ultimately means one expects the best possible outcome from any given situation. Wikipedia
When you are sick or in a very bad situation you hear a lot of your close people saying
think positive and good things will happen to you.
In that moment of your life when you have the impression that all is going down it sounds somehow naive and you wonder,
How can I think positive when I have such problems in my life? How is the positive thinking/optimism change my reality?
But if you take the time and look around, you will see that most of the successful and accomplished people are the ones who see the opportunity and not the difficulty in any situation, people who are first thinking positive about the situation and the ones who are seeing the glass half full.
Optimism is not about being naive or unrealistic, is a state of mind; it is an attitude which you need to grow for yourself. Optimism is connected with being grounded and with having the power and courage to see the truth in yourself and be confident in your strengths and aware of your weaknesses.
The optimistic state of mind is starting from childhood and it grows if we cultivated it, if we believe in it and practice it every day, if we surrender ourselves by people who are thinking positive thoughts.
Buddha was saying that
We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.
Pessimism is a state of mind in which one anticipates undesirable outcomes or believes that the evil or hardships in life outweigh the good or luxuries. Value judgments may vary dramatically between individuals, even when judgments of fact are undisputed. The most common example of this phenomenon is the “Is the glass half empty or half full?” situation.
Are we born being optimistic or pessimistic? Probably not, this is what we cultivate inside us and it has very much the Pygmalion effect, the more pessimistic we are the more bad situations we find ourselves in. Pessimism and Optimism are very much connected with the self-awareness and with our desire to find the truth about ourselves. The less we know about ourselves, the less confident we are and we have the tendency to think negative when we are unsure.
When you are pessimistic and not aware of yourself you think that world is unfair and many times you wonder
Why is this happening to me? Whose fault is this?
You need to have the courage to find who you really are, to be aware of your strengths and weaknesses and start to be confident in yourself and your inner power.
Pessimism can also be an effective motivator when we’re faced with an overwhelming or amorphous fear. A feeling of foreboding about an outcome can prompt us to take necessary steps that we would otherwise avoid, but this means to action in a positive way. For example during the financial crisis many people were pessimistic about the needed economic recovery. But reports show that as a result, they were making smart choices, such as saving money and investing for retirement. This shows still a positive/realistic approach because they finally lead to a better outcome.
As everything in life, we should look at optimism and pessimism having in mind the balance. Lately, it’s gotten to the point where people really feel pressure to think and talk optimistic, this is very common for the US culture and there “thinking positive” became too much of a cult.
Researchers find that optimism and pessimism operate not only as fixed points of view but also as mind-sets we can adopt as needed, rose- or blue-tinted lenses that we can put on and take off depending on the situation. Such a targeted use of optimism may actually be more effective than a blanket policy of all optimism, all the time.
Optimism and pessimism are feelings about the future. They help us manage our expectations and our actions moving forward.
Explains B. Cade Massey, an assistant professor of organizational behavior at the Yale School of Management.
Take a look at your life and analyze different successful and also unsuccessful moments. What did you think at that time, positive or rather negative? What was your energy level when you were optimistic about a situation and what was the energy level when you had been pessimistic? What would you change? What did you learn of that situation?
Try to exercise your mind in thinking positive thoughts about different situations and analyze the consequences. Look around you, to your friends and colleagues, check who are the people who are really helping you to grow, from whom you can learn something valuable, who are the people who make you feel well? Are they rather optimistic or pessimistic?
Remember, that thinking positive is not enough to make things happen; you need to accept and understand the reality. Train your mind to see the opportunity and not the difficulty in every situation but stay realistic and do not lie to yourself. Because the world is unpredictable, we continually generate mental scenarios about how we think things will unfold, and we color these scenarios bright or dark, hopeful or fearful. Sometimes we have these scenarios so strong in our minds that we already set up our mind for the future outcome although it did not happen.
For example if you consider a promotion at work, just thinking optimistic will not make you get it, but having a positive thought about this and thinking that you really want this, will drive you to fight for this opportunity and have the courage to ask for it. You might be disappointed if the answer is no, but at least you asked for it and you let everybody know your expectations.
On the other side if you are pessimistic and not even consider the opportunity of having a promotion because you already created a scenario in your head that your boss will not agree to it, by the time when there is the moment to ask for it you will not have the courage to do it.
We as coaches must be willing to challenge our clients in discovering their strengths and weaknesses and see them as opportunities. It is our role to fuel the optimism in our sessions and focus the attention rather on what is working and try to find with the client the reason for what is not working. We should empower the clients to find their truth and the opportunities in every situation but still being objective and realistic.