Focus on Solutions: An Optimist’s Approach to Life
Life will never be without problems or difficulties! The difference between optimist and pessimist is that pessimists are always looking for someone to blame and love to find others to wallow in their misery with them whereas optimists choose to focus their thoughts and energy on solutions to change and improve the issue or situation.
I like to refer to myself as a Realistic Optimist. What the heck does that mean you ask??? I’m in the camp of Realist vs. Idealist. My views of life are hopeful yet not naive.
Optimists see possibilities where pessimists see problems. Do I think tomorrow can be better than today? Absolutely! Why? Because there is no reason that it can’t be!
When you believe in possibilities, your approach to life changes, and where there are possibilities there are solutions to any and all problems.
Years ago I remember hearing Brian Tracy say, “optimist sees difficulties as specific, while the pessimist sees them as pervasive.”. I have kept that in mind over the years when things have gone awry. That mindset has allowed me to view difficulties as mere temporary setbacks. I review the situation, acknowledge where things went awry, own any fault that belongs to me, and find a solution to prevent the situation from occurring again AND hopefully simultaneously rectify the most recent situation.
Adopting the mindset of a solution-focused optimist has many benefits. It is common for people to shut down after a great disappointment or failure due to the fact that they assume it will happen again. They don’t give weight to the numerous times before where things went right but rather focus solely on the most recent. Psychologists found that optimists are less likely to be controlled by this “Recency Effect.” The “Recency Effect” is a psychological term that states that the most recent experiences we go through are the ones that we remember. Optimists are able to look beyond what is happening now and see the bigger picture.
So if your current inclination is more indicative of a pessimist, what can you do? When adversity appears, recognize your thoughts and don’t let your mind wander toward the negative. The more you think and talk about the problem, the bigger the problem becomes. Instead intentionally think of ways to resolve the situation and as a bonus search for lessons within the difficulty or situation that you can grow from.
Difficulties are not permanent and Failure is never final unless you make it so.
“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” – Winston Churchill