Incurable Optimism



How do people view the difficult events that show up in their lives, or happen in the world around them?

I've always been open about the fact that I was very depressed recently - from being sick to losing something I passionately and truly loved - and even before that, it often seemed that life's events were relentlessly unfair, despite all my success.

Yet something has happened to me over the last month or so, perhaps as a result of the extraordinarily positive experience of knowing where everything went wrong and eventually, finding my right place in the world.


Glass must always be half-full

Somehow, I've become an incurable optimist. I've always been an optimist but never incurable, feel me?

Having been completed, before everything started falling all over the place, played a big role in this. It's a very spiritual and optimistic place, despite the hardships faced by so many.

Sure, most of us have constantly heard the phrase: "por algo pasan las cosas." And I've come to really realize and accept that good or bad, it's all good. The pain of being rejected despite the love and passion one has has allowed me to see all life events as divinely ordained, no matter how difficult or painful they may appear on the surface.

I recently read an interview with the father of positive psychology, Martin Seligman, which made me feel very happy about having switched teams to join the incurable optimists. When Seligman, a staggeringly prolific researcher, was asked to describe the one piece of information that he'd like every person to know, this is what he said:

"If you are a pessimist in the sense that when bad things happen you think they are going to last forever and undermine everything you do, then you are about eight times as likely to get depressed, you are less likely to succeed at work, your personal relationships are more likely to break up, and you are likely to have a shorter and more illness-filled life. That's the main discovery I associate with my lifetime."

This would be awful news if there was no way out of being pessimistic, but Seligman himself claims that he's a 'born pessimist'. And if you're familiar with his works, much of it focuses on learned optimism, and the first thing his optimism programs teach is to recognize the catastrophic things that we say to ourselves when things go wrong.


It really starts with telling yourself you can do it

Pessimists think that they - or their usual bad luck - are responsible for the bad things that happen to them. They think that one bad thing happening means that more are on the way. Optimists, in contrast, see negative events as being external and unrelated to them, isolated negative incidents that have no relationship to other aspects of their lives, or things that might happen in the future. I choose to see negative events as surprise circumstances that always, in retrospect, arrive with a gift hidden inside.

'nah mean? In essence, you can decide which attitude to have - who would you rather be?

Today, I thoroughly enjoy living with the notion and attitude that things will always work out. Whenever something challenging comes along, that's what I say to myself.

And if I forget, the pain of losing something I would give anything to have again acts as my reminder. I may feel sorry for myself for a little while, but eventually I pull up my socks and start to look for the gift in the experience. I do what I need to deal with the situation, but trust that as a rule, things will work out well. And they always do, in some way - if I remember to look for it.


The time to stop hating the feelings of negativity starts now!

How optimistic are you when you talk to other people about their lives? There's a fine line between optimism and false hope, but based on the research that I've seen, as well as my own experience, I think we'd do well to encourage everyone around us to be optimistic, too.

Especially when people are sick: research has shown that optimistic cancer patients have better outcomes than pessimistic patients, and a longitudinal study in Harvard students found that optimists were significantly healthier than pessimists throughout life.

Having gone through what I went through, I now focus on your strengths, on my successes, and more importantly, focus on all that's good about life. And anyone could do the same thing.


At the end of it all, we have to believe that it's all gonna be good

Even if you never have before, you can start right now. You know, we have so much to be optimistic about, regardless of what's going on in the world right now and/or what's going on in our personal lives.

I know it's easier said than done but start with being grateful for what you have, and know that all things work together for good, if you choose to see life's events from that perspective.

It really is a choice.

And it's my choice to look at it that way.

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