What is optimistic thinking? And how does it relate to happiness?
You probably have heard about “glass half full, glass half empty.” The same glass of water would be seen by some as half full, and by others as half empty. This is a great way to explain optimism versus pessimism.
The optimistic thinker may be just as thirsty as the pessimistic thinker. But, when she sees the glass, she considers it half full of water. The pessimistic thinker on the other hand, sees it as half empty.
Even though most of us tend to be mostly optimistic (research has shown it could be up to 80% of all people), something pessimistic may slip in. And usually we don’t even realize when we’re being pessimistic. We just go about our day, and without noticing, we respond pessimistically. Pessimism expresses itself in all kinds of ways. Have your ever experienced yourself thinking or saying one of these?:
- “I’m never going to get out of this situation.”
- “It’s my fault.”
- “I wish I could change this, but I can’t do anything about it.”
- “This is going to ruin everything.”
Then this is a great time to learn about the optimistic vs. pessimistic explanatory style.
Optimistic Explanatory Style
Have you ever heard the quote “It’s not what happens to you, it’s what you do with it?” This is the perfect way to introduce the two explanatory styles. Because optimistic people don’t have better lives. They interpret the things that happen to them in a happier light. In other words, it’s just about how you explain things that happen to yourself.
The optimistic explanatory style gives us an alternative for every negative or pessimistic thought:
- This will last forever? NO! “This too will pass!“
- This is going to undermine everything? NO! “This relates just to this one situation!“
- It’s my fault? NO! “It’s not (entirely) my fault!“
- There’s nothing I can do about it? NO! “There is always something I can do.“
Not only can we train ourselves to be more mindful about when we’re being pessimistic, or negative. We can also learn to immediately turn it around by using one of the optimistic explanatory styles.
So the next time you encounter a negative thought – try and give it an optimistic spin! We’re sure you’ll feel better because of it.
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