How to Be Optimistic During Challenges
We all face challenges now and again, but it is our reaction to those challenges that determine how quickly we can overcome them.
There are typically two types of views people have towards challenges – optimistic or pessimistic.
While everyone may have a natural tendency to have one view or the other, your ability to be an optimist when challenges arise will impact your overall success and outlook on life.
How Optimism Affects Happiness
Although most people tend to focus on their physical health and appearance, mental health is equally, if not more important, a component of your health. This is because your mental health impacts the way you do nearly everything in life.
The true measure of “mental fitness” is how optimistic you are about yourself and your life.
To become mentally fit, you need to learn how to control your thinking in very specific ways so that you feel terrific about yourself and your situation, no matter what happens.
5 Ways to be an Optimist During Challenges
1. Control Your Reactions and Responses
There are a few basic differences in the reactions of optimists and pessimists. The first difference is that the optimist sees a setback as temporary, while the pessimist sees it as permanent.
The optimist sees an unfortunate event, such as an order that falls through or a sales call that fails, as a temporary event, something that is limited in time and that has no real impact on the future. The pessimist, on the other hand, sees negative events as permanent, as part of life and destiny.
So, when you find yourself in this situation, take a moment to really reflect on the challenge before you react. Try to visualize the next step towards improvement rather than responding to the setbacks that you have no control over.
Do not let one negative event impact the other aspects of your life and the challenges that you face.
2. Isolate the Incident
Another difference between the optimist and the pessimist is that the optimist sees difficulties as a singular event, while the pessimist sees them as universal.
This means that when things go wrong for the optimist, he or she looks at the event as an isolated incident largely disconnected from other things that are going on in their life.
A pessimist will take the incident and add it to a laundry list of other things going on in their life. They have a largely negative outlook on everything and tend to expand the stress they feel towards one issue, onto other, unrelated areas of their life.
So, to remain positive, try to remind yourself that just because you are facing a setback in one area – whether that be a project at work falling behind or not hitting a milestone set – does not mean that the entire goal is obsolete. You may simply need to modify your plan.
A single setback may seem big at the moment, but in reality, you can quickly overcome most setbacks with the right outlook. Isolating the incident allows you to take the setback in stride and then move on from it.
3. View Setbacks as Temporary Events
For example, if something you were counting on failed to materialize and you interpreted it to yourself as being an unfortunate event, but something that happens in the course of life and business, you would be reacting like an optimist.
The pessimist, on the other hand, sees disappointments as being pervasive. That is, to him they are indications of a problem or shortcoming that pervades every area of life.
If you find yourself in this situation take a moment to remind yourself, you are always capable of making change and nothing is set in stone. A glass half full mentality leads an optimist to believe that something better is coming, giving them something to work for.
A pessimist gives up, letting a single setback affect the other areas of their life. This can cause a negative ripple effect on your life, while the optimist stays motivated in any situation.
4. Don’t Take Failure Personally
It can be extremely difficult at times to see the positive side of failure. An optimist sees events as external, while pessimists interpret events as personal. When things go wrong, the optimist will tend to see the setback as resulting from external factors over which one has little control.
An optimist tries not to take the situation personally. Although failure is not something anyone wants to deal with, the optimist uses it as a learning opportunity.
If the optimist is cut off in traffic, for example, instead of getting angry or upset, he will simply downgrade the importance of the event by saying something like, “Oh, well, I guess that person is just having a bad day.”
The optimist doesn’t think they were cut off because that person had malicious intentions against them. The pessimist, on the other hand, has a tendency to take everything personally. If the pessimist is cut off in traffic, he or she will react as though the other driver has deliberately acted to upset and frustrate them.
Looking at the bigger picture allows you to act calmly and work through any situation as the optimist did in this example. In fact, you can even go further and turn any negative situation into a positive one. By allowing the person to cut you off, you may have helped them get to work on time or meet a deadline.
Remember that the inevitable setbacks that you face are temporary, specific, and external. View the negative situation as a single event that is not connected to other potential events and that is caused largely by external factors over which you can have little control.
Simply refuse to see the event as being in any way permanent, pervasive, or indicative of personal incompetence or inability. Resolve to think like an optimist, no matter what happens. You may not be able to control events, but you can control the way you react to them. The earlier you learn this, the happier you will be in life.
5. Remain Calm and Objective
An individual who is truly an optimist has the ability to be both objective and unemotional when caught up in the inevitable storms of daily life. This person has the ability to continue talking to themself in a positive and optimistic way no matter what is happening in their life.
This allows them to keep their mind calm, clear, and completely under control despite the external circumstances. As this individual is more relaxed and aware, they are much more capable of interpreting events more efficiently.
So, when an optimist is met with a challenge or area of stress, they are much better equipped to overcome it. They are able to stay in complete control, act proactively, and not let external forces cloud their judgment.
On the other hand, a pessimist may get caught up in their emotions, leading them to get angry, upset, and distracted. This leads to them handling problems poorly, thinking irrationally, and making things harder than they really have to be by acting reactively instead of proactively.
If you feel overwhelmed or like your blood is boiling, practice being calm in these situations. Although easier said than done, staying calm and thinking positively can change your life.
Become More Optimistic
Now that you have these five steps to guide you, you can begin to put these ideas to work in your everyday life.
Remember that setbacks are temporary, external and whenever things go wrong, they are usually caused by a variety of external events. Say to yourself, “What can’t be cured must be endured,” and then get back to thinking about your goals.
To further improve your ability to think positively, and be an optimist in every aspect of your life, use my personal development plan template. With this template, you can identify your areas of opportunity and improve your successes, while also learning to think ahead and evaluate your goals effectively.
About Brian Tracy — Brian is recognized as the top sales training and personal success authority in the world today. He has authored more than 60 books and has produced more than 500 audio and video learning programs on sales, management, business success and personal development, including worldwide bestseller The Psychology of Achievement. Brian's goal is to help you achieve your personal and business goals faster and easier than you ever imagined. You can follow him on Google+, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Linkedin and Youtube.