Optimism is a hot topic! Everyone has their opinion of what optimism means and whether or not it is good for you. So, what does optimistic mean to healthy optimists? Well, first it is important to know who is a healthy optimist and who is not. You might be surprised to learn that even the people you thought were not optimistic may just have a little bit of optimism in them.
What Does Optimistic Mean?
Being optimistic means being hopeful about an outcome and being able to see the bright side of a situation. While it requires confidence to be an optimistic person, a healthy optimistic doesn’t think that everything is going to work out their way. But, we will talk about that later in this article. For now, the definition of being optimistic means viewing a situation as beneficial and having a favorable outcome.
Is Everyone A Little Optimistic?
Most people have optimism inside of them, even if they don’t admit it. They’re optimism towards their health, for example, always stays high even when then are facing hard times in other areas of their life. They believe they are going to live a long life without disease or really big hardships regarding their health. They believe that bad things can happen to other people, but to them, they are more than likely to live out a long, healthy life and die in their bed. They have optimism towards their future when it comes to health.
Also, everyone has an optimistic attitude towards their marriage in the beginning. Despite divorce statistics saying otherwise, you don’t get married and expect to get divorced in a month. You get married and imagine a future full of fun, fulfillment, and intimacy. And, people who get divorced and remarry still have a belief that their second marriage is going to work out. That’s called being optimistic about the future of your marriage!
It is true that not everyone has an optimistic view about their future, but most people do. As humans, we forecast our lives well into our 90’s being happy and healthy. Nobody wants to believe that they are going to die before that time, so optimism is the only option.
Is It Better To Expect The Worst?
Everyone has their opinion on whether optimism is good or not. But, there are some positives and negatives of being optimistic.
Why Optimism Beats Pessimism
A lot of pessimistic people will tell you that for true happiness, it’s always best to expect the worst. When you don’t expect good things to happen, you don’t get disappointed when bad things happen because you expected things not to work out anyways. And, as a bonus, you experience a lot of happiness when you are surprised with something good.
It’s true. Being optimistic seems like it has the potential to lead to a lot of heartaches. When things don’t work out as hoped, it can feel pretty bad. High expectations that don’t come true can lead us to feel as if we didn’t do enough, weren’t strong enough, weren’t good enough, or just weren’t enough in general.
But, those feelings eventually pass – for optimistic people anyway. Why? Because people who are optimistic get back on their feet and find something else to be optimistic about. Their hope for a better future doesn’t just die out when something doesn’t work out their way. Instead, they take a lesson from the failure and learn from it. Then they set new optimistic goals for the future and start working towards them.
This is why optimistic people are more likely to achieve things in their life. Reaching goals and experiencing the life you want requires action on your part. If you are optimistic about the outcome, then you are more likely to keep taking action after a failure because you believe things will work out in one way or another. If you are pessimistic about the outcome, then you are less likely to take action after a failure because you don’t believe things will ever work out.
Moreover, when better than expected things happen to optimistic people, they still feel that boost of excitement that comes from having something really good happen. It’s still a nice surprise that they didn’t necessarily expect, even though they were expecting good things to happen.
Also, when compared to optimistic people, the people who expect the worst are less happy in their lives even when things are stable and nothing is happening. This is because their mindset is set to doom and gloom. They ‘know’ bad things are coming, so they don’t feel excited about anything, and they operate from a place of worry, doubt, and disappointment. Optimistic people, on the other hand, are excited about their future, and they tend to operate from a level of belief, hopefulness, and enthusiasm. It’s clear why optimistic people are happier in general.
When Optimism Affects Life Negatively In A Small Way
There are times that optimism can have a negative impact on life. For instance, if you are optimistic about getting everything done for the day, even when your schedule is overly full, then the chances are good that one or two things won’t get done. You may even show up late to things because, despite your optimistic attitude that you can get everything done quickly, it doesn’t always work out that way.
Overscheduling is common for an optimistic person. So is thinking that everything is probably going to work out well for the day. And when it doesn’t, having to push everything on the scheduled list down a bit so that you can overcome the unexpected problems that have arisen can make things hectic and stressful.
Then, the next day, it all happens again.
When Optimism Turns Ugly
If you are someone who believes that everything is going to work out for the best, without any belief that things can go wrong, then bad things can and will happen. This happens when someone is blindly optimistic, not able to see reality and what can actually happen when you push through well-known laws or rules.
For instance, an optimistic person who believes they will never die of something bad will be more willing to do dangerous things. They may drive their car on thin ice, smoke a pack a day, or challenge someone with a gun to a fight. They may even put all their extra money into a risky investment believing that they can’t fail. In short, they are more willing to take chances in life because they feel the outcome is going to work out in their favor.
I don’t see this a big enough argument to let go of being optimistic, though. It simply means that people need to hold realistic expectations when it comes to what they are capable of in regards to their strengths and the laws of the world, such as gravity and probability! Moreover, they need to be cautious when confronted with scenarios that could affect their entire life in a negative way if they are not careful.
It’s important to be a healthy optimistic. Being excited and hopeful for the future, while staying grounded in a place of reality that keeps you from doing stupid things, can help you be happier and achieve a more fulfilling life.
So, What Does Optimistic Mean To Healthy Optimists?
What do healthy optimists believe about themselves, other people, and the world? How do they choose to interact in this world? There are some key traits of optimistic people with a healthy view of reality.
1. They Know Happiness Is A Choice
Optimistic people have been pessimistic in their life. They have, at one time or another, expected the worst or looked outside of themselves for happiness, and they know how unhappy they were during that time.
They can clearly see that without hope, self-confidence, and high expectations, there is not much to be happy about. They know the thrill that comes from expecting something great and working towards it with enthusiasm. They feel good about their life and where it is going.
They also tend to be happier in the moment. They are not full of worry and dread; instead, they are living in a higher energetic state where contentment lives.
And, they don’t look for happiness outside of themselves. They don’t expect other people to make them happy or fill in some sort of void. They know that all the happiness they need is inside of themselves, and they choose to view themselves in a positive way and make sure they react in a positive way to things that happen in their life.
In short, they know that they have to choose to view things in a positive way if they are going to be happy, which makes it very clear to them that happiness is a choice.
2. They Don’t Surround Themselves With Negative People
You will not find an optimistic person sitting in a crowd of complainers and whiners. Even though they understand why some people are so negative and try not to let negative people affect their viewpoint in life, they would rather surround themselves with other optimistic people who can encourage them, support them, and keep them in a place of higher energy,
3. They Keep Busy In Life
Optimistic people can’t be found sitting on the couch trying to drown their worries away. They are busy taking action in their life because they know that their actions help produce the results that they want.
For example, an optimistic business person can be found working, connecting with others, and building plans for the future. They are busy doing things that can help bring to life their hopes and dreams for the future.
4. They Know They Are Responsible For Their Life
Healthy optimists know that they are the key factor in their success. They know that their actions and beliefs play a huge part in what happens to them, – good or bad, so they don’t go around pointing fingers in blame or complaining about how unfair life is. They take ownership for their mistakes and reactions to setbacks in life, and they don’t waste time when it comes to finding the real issue behind things that go wrong.
5. They Have Gratitude For Their Life
Optimists are grateful. Their positive outlook stems from happiness and satisfaction, and that stems from appreciating what is in your life right now. Optimists can see that there are a lot of opportunities out there, but they also appreciate the awesomeness that they are experiencing right now and have a sense of passion for living that comes from that.
6. They Expect Ups And Downs In Life
Healthy optimists know that life is not a bowl of cherries. There are going to be some bad days, and there are going to be some really bad days. They don’t try to deny that. They expect those days, and they work through them.
For instance, a healthy optimist may know that a bad day requires time to reflect, self-nurture, and have self-compassion. It’s not a day to beat yourself up, blame other people, and give up. It’s a day to stop, take some down time, and re-energize. After some time working through the bad experience, a healthy optimist will get back to living life in an optimistic way.
7. They Use Positive Language
A healthy optimist won’t sit around and say things that people with a negative view on life will. They won’t saying they lucked out when something good happens; instead, they will credit their strengths and behavior for it. They won’t say that two more bad things are going to happen when one negative thing happens; instead, they will continue to talk about the future with hope. They won’t complain about a situation; instead, they will talk about what they can do to overcome it or move past it.
In short, you don’t leave a conversation with an optimist feeling worse. You feel more hopeful, or at least feel as if they are hopeful.
8. They Focus On The Good Things In Situations
An optimist sees situations different than other people. While negative people are focused on negative things, optimists tend to see the value in what is happening or the good aspects around what is happening.
For instance, many people don’t like rain, but an optimist won’t focus on what the rain is holding them back from doing. They will focus on the good aspects of the rain. For instance, a lot of dogs love the rain, and an optimist will take the opportunity to let their dog experience the feeling of walking through the mud on a rainy day. Also, kids love the rain! An optimist will take their kid out to puddle jump instead of complaining about how they can’t do anything outside because of the rain.
9. They Visualize Good Things
A healthy optimist spends time visualizing their future in a positive way. They don’t expect things to get worse and visualize doom and gloom. Instead, they see things going smoothly, working out, and having a favorable outcome. This positive visualization is a huge motivator to take action on the things they need to take action on.
10. They See More Value In Their Life
Lastly, compared to pessimists, optimistic people see more value in their life, other’s lives, and the world around them. They experience more meaning in what they do and experience, and that boosts their happiness even more.