Effectively, Efficiently Optimistic

Optimism is about thinking in a positive way.  NeuroPositivity is a much broader expression of behavior, emotion, motivation, creating, and living.

It is about an enduring belief in personal thriving, coupled with the persistent experience of feeling good and feeling free.

Why are we so worried about too much optimism and too much positivity?  What’s all the hesitancy about? Not enough research about benefits? There’s plenty.

Some studies show that too much optimism can be dangerous and cause too much risky behavior.

You can always find a study somewhere that will take the air out of your balloon. 

The worry, I suspect, is something like “don’t get too happy, don’t get too over-confident, don’t let go of too much fear, you might be tricked into making a mistake.”  

The truth is that we are still tripping over the negative and cleaning up its spills more than exercising the fullness of the potential of positivity, not only to heal and integrate, but to create and build new people and new worlds.

We already know that an enormous increase in gamma waves by exceptional meditating monks increases brain integration, peace and love, and is contagious to others in the room not even doing the meditating.

What are the effects on the medial frontal cortex, our most evolved brain parts, and their capacity to integrate top down, from caudate nucleus through the insula (strongly involved in both addiction and emotional management) down to the amygdala, affecting the vagus nerve and increasing vagal tone?

We are just beginning to learn how much it takes before neurogenesis kicks in, creating new neuropathways of thriving, flourishing, and feeling good, and only following this process, are older neuropathways beginning to become more integrated.

We aren’t going to integrate the old ones, or better our personal narrative, until we create new neuropathways.

So is the answer to be more pessimistic or more effectively optimistic?

How’s this? Are you safer Down Spiraling until you feel more negative, find things wrong with most everything else in the process, and narrow your options?

Or will you claim that positive energy and be more effectively and efficiently optimistic?

Pessimism or more negativity are not the answer. Your brain is more naturally optimistic than pessimistic. It’s necessary for evolution.

The answer to research that shows the dangers of optimism is not that you need to be more negative, but that you need to be more effectively positive. You don’t have to check your optimism at the door in favor of digging for a little pessimism.

You don’t have to move from safety to feeling threat to manage your optimism.

If you are building castles in the air, use the same creativity and imagination to put foundations underneath the ones that mean the most to you.

Pessimism narrows your options and your access to your strengths. And here is the key issue: do you know what your strengths are?

Optimism, especially high levels of optimism that might have a tendency toward impulsivity, need to be grounded in one of your positive strengths that provide a balance for you in your life. And you can be sure they are there, especially if you know your scientifically tested strengths and let your optimistic energy grow them.

So don't be afraid to be too optimistic.  Claim the creative energy that is there and filter it through your strengths, which provide a perfect balance and direction.

About the author

Dr. William K. Larkin

Copyright © 2015 The Applied Neuroscience Institute