In a crisis, optimists see the problem as temporary. They don’t blame themselves and they don’t feel doomed.
A few facts:
- Three-quarters of Americans consider themselves optimists.
- 99 percent of workers would prefer a more positive job environment.
- Nine in 10 people say they’re more productive around positive people.
- Negative employees turn off customers.
- The one profession where pessimists do better than optimists is law, but lawyers’ rate of depression is three times higher than everybody else’s.
- Gratitude and forgiveness lift people’s spirits and charge them with optimism.
Research by Martin E. P. Seligman of the University of Pennsylvania shows what happens when people don’t think they can make positive changes, a condition he calls “learned helplessness.” Taken to extremes, pessimism carries people toward depression and despair.
You can’t count on hope to magically appear. You need to cultivate it through practice. You need to focus on what you can do and control; consider how to tap into your strengths and resources; mentally rehearse how you’ll handle problems; accentuate what’s working; and focus on the possibilities rather than the limits.
Take this as your motto: “No sense in being pessimistic. It wouldn’t work anyway.”
—Adapted from Hard Optimism: How to Succeed in a World Where Positive Wins, Price Pritchett, McGraw-Hill.