Pessimistic. Negative. Or Just a Critical Thinker?

by Karen Keller, Ph.D.

A group of anthropologists at Cambridge were conducting research on the concepts of pessimism and optimism. Their subjects were two young boys: one a pessimist and the other an optimist. The pessimistic boy was put in a room full of wonderful toys. The optimistic boy was put in a room with nothing but a barrel of manure.

When the scientists looked in on the pessimistic boy one hour later, they found him complaining about this toy that didn’t work, that one needed fresh batteries, the next one wasn’t the right color, etc., etc. Recording their findings, they moved on.

As they opened the door to the room where the optimistic boy was, they had to duck to avoid being hit by flying manure. Indeed, manure was splattered everywhere. They found the young lad head-first in the barrel, where he was heard to say, “I know there’s a pony in here somewhere.”

Despite what people tell you, seeing the glass as half empty is not how you prepare yourself for potential challenges or barriers that block your progress. The “half empty” perspective asks you to entertain negative thoughts, a pessimistic attitude and an angry frightened view of the world.

If you are prone to the “half empty” perspective, there is a way to move away from that mindset and into a mindset of “half full” optimistic thinking. Being in a state of mind that is optimistic doesn’t imply you are a “Pollyanna,” not in touch with reality, or wearing blinders. Being optimistic won’t get in the way of effectively defending or preparing yourself.

Practice critical thinking. Look at all the scenarios: good, bad or ugly. Being a critical thinker while seeing the glass as “half-full” lets you see situations, problems or opportunities in a balanced way. You keep your fears and reactionary emotions in check.

Research shows that people with an optimistic life-view tend to outperform pessimists in all respects. This represents the steady impact of our thoughts, expectations and beliefs on our behavior. The way your reason or offer critical thought with yourself about the things that happen to you has a huge impact on your success at home, work, school and community.

Being optimistic or pessimistic is a learned behavior – you aren’t born with it. It’s learned through experience or through other people telling us how to be. Since this behavior is learned, it can be unlearned. How?

For every setback you encounter, you need to interpret them as challenges or mountains to be climbed and conquered. Your attitude plays a critical role in supporting a”‘this will not break me” mindset. Setbacks are seen as temporary, and good events are permanent.

Which do you entertain on a daily basis? It could be an indication of what lies ahead.

[Editor's Note: Sometimes you have to step outside your comfort level to achieve success in life, personally or professionally. If you want to be free to explore all that life has to offer and are open to new ideas, new experiences, new opportunities, then you must check this out now!]

[This is only one of the many powerful articles in this week's Influence It! Real Power for Women free ezine. To enjoy the full issue, jam packed with insightful information on strategies to enhance your personal and professional life to achieve ultimate success, you must be a subscriber. Sign up for your own free subscription NOW by clicking here!]

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