There is a slight but significant distinction to be made between being a positive thinker and being an optimist.
I wrote about optimism back in January in the post Optimize Your World, and I have been thinking lately of how the optimistic mindset is really one that transcends mere positive or happy thoughts that one would have and is really an extremely powerful belief system which manifests as a lifestyle.
Positive thinking is powerful and it is a great place to start for anyone interested in experiencing more success in any part of their life. But in order to go to another level in your life and start to achieve the extraordinary there is some work to be done. You must not only work to control your thoughts, but you must also develop your self confidence, believe in your capability to withstand negativity that may arise, and embrace your resourcefulness to get through life and in the best possible way.
Sounds like a lot, and it is. But if you’re willing to accept the fact that you can do anything you set your mind to, are brave enough to take some of the risks necessary to achieve the kind of results you can point to later as proof of your awesomeness (yes, it is a word), and disciplined enough to keep going, you can develop an optimistic mindset. Once it becomes a habit for you to see the world this way, you will have cultivated the best lifestyle imaginable.
In my research for the book that I am currently writing I had the privilege of interviewing Dr. Larina Kase. If you don’t know her, you should make the effort to learn more about her and follow her work. She is extremely intelligent, insightful, inspiring and to boot, a really nice person.
Dr. Kase is a cognitive psychologist and success coach to business owners. In addition to this, she is a New York Times best-selling author. Her most recent book is “The Confident Leader: How the Most Successful People Go From Effective to Exceptional” (McGraw-Hill, 2008) . You can learn more from her about the psychology of success at http://www.pascoaching.com. I also happen to follow Dr. Kase’s blog, The Mindset of Success, and I would encourage you to do the same. http://www.themindsetofsuccess.com.
When I asked Dr. Kase whether or not the most successful people were all positive, she gave a great response, which I wanted to share with you, and it also addresses this difference between just thinking positive and being genuinely optimistic:
“I would say that the most successful people have the ability to see the positive in various situations. They have the confidence in themselves to know that even if something is not positive, they can handle it. There is a fairly well established link between optimism and success. Optimism is different than positive thinking. Positive thinking could be, ‘Everything is great!’ which may not be especially convincing. Optimism is, ‘Things will likely go great and if anything doesn’t, I can certainly handle it and it may even open up new opportunities’.”
Being an optimist really does go above and beyond just trying to think that everything is fine. It is a core belief system which asserts that even in the face of adversity or when confronting a result which may not have been expected, therein lies opportunity. It’s not forcing yourself to see the world in a positive light, it’s about being focused on the fact that a positive result can come from any circumstance if you are willing to invest your time and energy in order to see it through.
Start by looking for more creative ways to resolve some of the negative situations that exist around you, and which you can control. Tap into the creativity that you are equipped with. If it helps to get the ball rolling, picture scenarios that are way “outside the box”…use your child like imagination to get started. Have some fun with it, and realize that there are as many options available to you as you are willing to create. The most important part of this whole deal is to not limit yourself. Limitation puts the squeeze on optimism. Time to squeeze back!
So how about it? Are you ready to take it to the next level? I’m positive you can!