Optimists enjoy greater health and well-being but what happens if we’re a glass half full type of person? The good news is we can change! Have a look at the three key differences between optimists and pessimists below:
- Optimists see set-backs as only temporary.
Pessimists believe adversity is permanent and joy is fleeting.
- Optimists mentally compartmentalize set-backs so they don’t affect the rest of their lives.
Pessimists allow life challenges to permeate every area of their lives which permanently lowers their mood.
- Optimists don’t take set-backs personally.
Pessimists take everything to heart.
While optimists are confident with a strong sense of self, pessimists often experience major shock or trauma as children. As children we are powerless so we grow up believing we’re still powerless and incapable of creating joyful lives. But this sense of helplessness is learned!
The good news for pessimists is that optimism can also be learned!
Below is Martin Seligman’s “A B C D E” method and an example which explores how pessimists react to a situation and how they can change it around.
The Five Steps to thinking like an Optimist
Adverse Event: A colleague expresses irritation with a pessimist
Belief: The pessimist believes she’s not popular or good at her job
Consequence: Poor self-esteem and job satisfaction
Dispute: Rather than accept her belief that she’s not popular, the pessimist must now come up with an alternative explanation, such as: “Gee, my colleague must be having a bad day, I don’t need to worry about her bad temper or take it personally.
Energise: Over time, practicing the Dispute element of the ABCDE theory leads to increased hopefulness and positivity.
Keep a diary for 48 hours and take note of how you react to each Adverse event, your resulting Belief and Consequence and how you can Dispute it to become Energised and optimistic!
Read Start Being Happy for practical steps to a happy life!