Are you too optimistic?
Can you be?
Some studies claim that too much optimism can be dangerous and cause too risky behavior.
You can always find a study somewhere that will take the air out of your balloon.
So is the answer to be more pessimistic or more effectively optimistic?
Is it better to DownSpiral until you feel more negatively, find things wrong with most everything else in the process, and narrow your focus and your options?
Or claim that positive energy, and be more effectively and efficiently optimistic?
Pessimism or more negativity is not the answer. Your brain is more naturally optimistic than pessimistic; it’s necessary for evolution.
The answer to the research that shows the dangers of optimism is not that you need to be more negative but that you can be more effectively positive. You don’t have to check your optimism at the door in favor 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 full 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 impulsiveness, 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 if you know your scientifically tested strengths.
Your strengths are your performance tools. You use them when you encounter challenges. They are like the fuel in your car. In certain situations, you may need to accelerate and use more fuel to increase your speed.
Your strengths provide you with that “performance boost” in any and every situation of your life.
How you regard your strengths and what you are willing to do with them is like the decision to eat or not eat good food. You can get by on the junk food of your weaknesses, but what builds your sense of self and very directly the happiness you experience, is your decision to flex the muscles of your strengths, to use them more and more, and to put yourself in situations where they are used.
Strengths move you toward life and aliveness. Playing to weaknesses moves you toward deterioration.
It starts with feeling disconnected and moves to feeling disengaged, disenchanted, unappreciated, unseen, unnoticed. Feeling unappreciated appears as the State of Mind of loneliness.
That’s usually the place where we start looking for someone else to fill the absence of ourselves that we have created.
When you engage your strengths in an UpSpiral of feeling good, you are meeting challenges head on, from the higher ground of your real self.
© Dr. William K. Larkin