Building Family Strengths: Optimism
Do you see a glass half full or half empty? Positive thinking, or optimism, is crucial to how we perceive life. Research has shown that the traits of optimism and pessimism are innate personality traits. Our happiness in life is determined by our attitude. Carl Lewis, an Olympic gold medal winner in track, says, "If you go by other people's opinions or predictions, you'll just end up talking yourself out of something. If you're running down the track of life thinking that it's impossible to break life's records, those thoughts have a funny way of sinking into your feet."
WHAT IS OPTIMISM?
Attitude is an important aspect of optimism. Lewis Dunning states that, "What life means to us is determined not so much by what life brings to us as by the attitude we bring to life: not so much by what happens to us as by our reaction to what happens."
Optimism can be defined as the energy that fuels your thoughts, feelings and actions based on the difference between your expectations and your perceptions of a situation. It is important to recognize the key elements of the definition:
- Expectations are desired results.
- Perception is your interpretation of a current situation.
- Thoughts define your state of mind.
- Feelings keep your thoughts active.
- Energy can be positive or negative.
- Action is the response to a situation.
There are many things in life that we cannot control. But one aspect of our life that we do have the power to control is our optimism. There are several factors that may contribute to maintaining an optimistic attitude, such as your past experiences and the experiences of those around you. But YOU control how you feel. Optimism in a family can bring about positive results that will result in happiness and contentment for all family members.
Three categories of attitude that determine a person's level of optimism are:
- Spectators - those who "watch" life pass by
- Critics - those who find fault with others
- Players - those who learn and grow from experiences Are you a spectator, a critic or a PLAYER?
Reprinted with the permission of Clemson University. © 2008 Clemson University.
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