Is optimism a pessimistic thing

Realistic optimism is healthy optimism

Two properties - one Contradiction: You can optimistic and at the same time realistic be or are they not mutually exclusive? Shouldn't the realist be more of a pessimist? This is how a surprising number of people think - and at the same time they block numerous opportunities to surpass themselves and achieve success where the pessimist has long given up. Indeed it is realistic optimism a the Personality traits of successful people. And for a good reason…

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Realistic Optimism: A Definition

What draws realistic optimists and how is this property defined? Good question! Because it's not that easy at all. The combination of both perspectives creates a sometimes completely new attitude. But one after anonther…

  • realism

    is above all a matter of the mind. The realist analyzes and evaluates on the basis of facts and reliable facts (at least that's what they are from his point of view). In the end, he coolly calculates chances and probabilities.

  • optimism

    however, there is one thing above all: a decision. You can find something negative or positive in almost anything. The glass is either half empty or half full. Some positive traits may first have to be learned to discover, but they are there. The optimist chooses to focus primarily on these.

You could also say: Realism is above all else related to the present, he appraises those based on current data; Optimism, on the other hand, looks confidently into the future.

Last but not least, optimism and realism are two of the total seven pillars of resilience: Without the firm conviction that things will - sooner or later - turn for the better (optimism), resilience is inconceivable. Resilient people therefore do not generalize anything in the event of a defeat, motto: "I will never make it", but say to themselves: "This time I was unsuccessful, next time I will." Resilient people However, they also develop realistic scenarios for themselves: Temporary turning points in life cannot throw them off balance. Because they are already mentally preparing for their life "afterwards", they master these challenges more confidently and faster.

Realistic optimism - the hybrid from both perspectives - is therefore less pink than pure optimism. But he also describes one Attitude of planned confidence. The realistic optimist recognizes the situation as it is - sober and realistic without glossing over. How he deals with it, however, decides the optimist in him, in that he keeps the positive aspects in mind without ignoring the negative ones.
It is simply not writing a wish list that is unrealistic. Unrealistic optimism could otherwise lead to misjudging risks or hoping for something that is unlikely. Disappointments are so programmed.

Behind the realistic or also established optimism is the belief that the Turn things around for good because they can. In this way, the realistic optimist is able to give even difficult situations meaningfulness and to recognize something positive in them:

  • Someone who can plays along badly, then just had have a bad day.
  • A Application rejection should be like that because it saves you from undreamt-of harm. Or because something better is coming.

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Realistic optimism: healthy grip

You may know the pretty one parabola:

The pessimist says: "It's going downhill!"
The optimist says: "Huuuuuiiiiiii!"

So how to look at reality talk bad you can see them beautifully. It's all a question of perspective, perspective and the right amount. But with massive effects.

This is how more and more scientists are discovering supporting documents for the realistic optimist to do himself (but also others) a bigger favor. "Complete carelessness and unshakable confidence are the essentials of a happy life", recognized the Roman philosopher Lucius Annaeus Seneca. Today we know of others Benefits of optimism:

  • Understanding the prospect helps people Overcoming strokes of fate easier and faster and not to lose courage to face life (resilience). Optimists are also less likely to develop depression.
  • Belief in your own future also has a positive effect on the body and activates the self-healing powers: The immune defense of optimists has been shown to work better, they feel pain less and recover faster from operations, which has been proven by experiments with placebos and nocebos, among other things.
  • The positive point of view even ensures that the confident in the cut one bigger social network have as pessimists. And, as is well known, relationships damage those who don't have any.

As early as the 1930s, US researchers working with psychiatrist George Vaillant were studying the effects of optimism on our health. At that time, 268 Harvard University graduates were recruited and theirs health regularly examined to this day. The result speaks for itself: At a young age, optimists and pessimists were equally healthy. At the age of 45, however, they developed Black seers increasing health problems, which were also more severe than those of the confident fellow students.

Sure, about the ratio of cause and effect can be discussed excellently in such studies. They often show more correlations than causalities. But the former weigh no less heavily because of that. Hardly anyone would doubt that confidence and optimism are enormous Sources of strength for soul, body and psyche are.

Even if the realistic optimism is a little bit like that positive psychology reminds of Autosuggestion and the use of positive formulas and sentences to influence behavior, well-being and body reactions: That is exactly what it is not because in it the Traction is stuck - a healthy dose of realism.

It is healthy optimism.

Healthy optimism: think positively - only more realistically

Our brains are only too happy to focus on Problems. It does that because we are part of nature and survival is always the first thing that counts. Humans therefore always had to recognize dangers more quickly and remember them better than positive prospects.

An optimist sees an opportunity in every challenge; a pessimist, on the other hand, sees every opportunity as a challenge.

That is how Winston Churchill once summed it up nicely. Such negative impulses and emotions limit our perspectives and our horizons instead of expanding them. Even more: such emotions have mental consequences. With negative feelings, we keep repeating the problem internally and it becomes bigger than it ever was in reality. The result: Tunnel vision. In addition, we only use a fraction of our resources and possibilities.

The effect is like walking through quick-setting cement.

So if you want to achieve more than before, if you are looking for (greater) success, you cannot do without an attitude of realistic optimism. The first part is preserved, the second gives wings.

The good news about this is: Anyone can have this attitude as well Train your point of view. Twin studies show that an optimistic lifestyle is only about 25 percent innate. That is less than many other personality traits.

Everything it takes to have a more positive (and realistic) Develop future prospects, are:

  • self reflection (Why do I see it that way?)
  • Willingness to make decisions (I want to focus more on the positive!)
  • Mental strength (I can manage that!)

In short: look to the future more positively - only more realistically.

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[Photo credit: Roman Samborskyi, Doppelganger4 by]