Optimism vs. Pessimism

Posted on March 20, 2011


Remember the old joke, “Do you see the glass as half-empty or half-full?… I see a glass that is twice as big as it needs to be.”

There is plenty of research to show that Optimists are healthier, live longer, and make more money than pessimists. But new research suggests that if you are an optimist you will be more successful with optimistic thoughts, and if you are a pessimist, you will be more successful if you stick with negative thoughts. In other words, depending on your outlook, you have developed ways to cope in an uncertain world, and sticking to your coping mechanism whether positive or negative is better for you, this is according to research by Abigail Hazlett and colleagues (Hazlett et al., 2011), published in Social Cognition, reported by Jeremy Dean in a post on psychcentral.com blog.

This explains why trying to change a Pessimist into an Optimist is so difficult. How we view our successes are often tied to our attitudes, and we may think, “It is working for me, why should I change?” Research is showing that it is working for you and the way you see things will determine your reaction.

Does this mean we can’t change… NO, certainly not. Change the way you see yourself, or the outside world, and you will see different results.

Does this mean we shouldn’t change. NO, not necessarily. My contention has always been, if you don’t like the results you are getting, it is time to look at things differently… the positive energy around optimism will surround you with other positive people that will want to help you become successful. Since we can’t do it all ourselves, I vote for optimism. Having said that however, I do believe that repeated failure might mean it is time to spend your energy on trying to be successful at something else. When to change, that is up to you, and of course your attitude.