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You Can Be Accountable and Still Be Optimistic

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Today there was an article on SparkPeople on optimism. Here's the link for it:

For the most part, I liked the article. But I think the author misrepresents optimism a bit. Here's what she said that I disagree with:

"Optimists believe that their own actions result in positive things happening, that they are responsible for their own happiness, and that they can expect more good things to happen in the future. Optimists don’t blame themselves when bad things happen. They view bad events as results of something outside of themselves."

Huh? I agree that optimists don't "blame" themselves when bad things happen. But it doesn't necessarily follow that they view bad events as results of something outside of themselves. Certainly there are bad events that occur due to outside forces. But there are also some bad events that we bring on ourselves. You don't have to deny accountability to be optimistic. Instead the optimist looks at it as a learning experience as to what they can change. They don't beat themselves up about it. But they don't always look for outside forces to blame either.

Nowhere in the article does she mention looking inward to see what you could have done differently. Instead, when she used the example of a failed project at work, she says to look inside at what your strengths were and when you can use it. And then to look outward at the things that could have negatively influenced your project? Huh? What's wrong with looking inward to see if there was something you could have done differently? Maybe you procrastinated until too close to the deadline. Maybe you didn't delegate as much as you should have. Asking these questions, doesn't mean you're pessimistic or that you're blaming yourself. Recognizing areas that need changing doesn't mean you're pessimistic. How do you truly expect to grow without that recognition? The pessimist says, "I can't change." The optimist says, "I know what I need to change and I'm doing it. Woo hoo!"

The optimist says "what can I change - either within me or outside of me - to make a better tomorrow." The pessimist is the one who says, "it's not my's yours."

Unfortunately, I see this view all to often in my job.

"It's not my fault that my kids were taken's the State." (No, it's because you made the choice to cook meth in your home.)

"It's not my fault I broke the law, it's because of who I hang with." (No, it's because you made the choice to go along with your friends and break into cars.)

Optimism and accountability are not mutually exclusive. In fact, it's what you do with the accountability that can show your optimism.

My weight loss has slowed in the past few weeks. I've gained one week, then loss the next, then gained the next, then lost. It had nothing to do with outside forces or circumstances. It had to do with my choices. But you know what, that's ok. Because, I am making changes inside and out to become the person I want to be. I know it's within my control to get there and I plan on doing just that. I know it will be hard work, but it will be worth it. I know that I will make mistakes. There will be times I let myself down or others - that's part of being human. But I can learn from it and move on. I know that I don't have to wait to be happy or to live life until I get to the magic number. I can live life now, as I'm changing - as I'm on this journey to becoming the best me I can while I'm still breathing. And even if I am hit with bad events beyond my control, I am confident that my God will be with me. To me, that's more of what optimism is about.

Ok, I'm stepping off my soapbox now. emoticon

Hope everyone is having an awesomely optimistic day!

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • BETRHO48
    emoticon You are right on, Girlfriend!
    2376 days ago
  • LADYBUG1943
    I agree with the others. Great post, great insight.

    Indigo Yvonne
    2377 days ago
  • no profile photo CD14892622
    Great blog post, made me think emoticon

    I don't think I equate "things" with "events". BAD things to me are what happens day-to-day that are out of our control. Yes, we could have been more careful, paid more attention so we did not fall down the steps carrying that basket of laundry and break our leg but beating ourselves up about it won't help/change anything? We can only be just so careful, pay attention to just so many different things and I assure you you probably would automatically be more careful coming down the steps with a basket of laundry after that?

    Events though are PLANNED happenings, whether we plan well or ill (there are no "bad" events because, hopefully we learn from our actions?) and, yes, we can learn to plan better or follow our plan better or something like that? I plan to have only two beers at the bar tomorrow night but often in the past I have ordered three. How do I respond? Do I beat on myself, do I ignore it, do I rearrange my plan to make sure I have enough calories extra in case I DECIDE to do that, for that is a decision on my part and I must be accountable for that decision to ever get anywhere. I think the article was talking about people who drink too much and say they can't help it? the emoticon made them do it? People who think they are helpless and have no will power, etc., instead of figuring out how to take responsibility and make changes.
    2378 days ago

    Comment edited on: 10/6/2014 11:03:16 AM
  • HOLLYM48
    I totally agree with you. I think we always need to look inside and say what went right, what could I have done differently, better? I think we can be an optimist but still take blame when we need to! Great blog!

    2379 days ago
  • no profile photo CD14703122
    2380 days ago
  • no profile photo CD14269091
    I agree whole-heartedly! Thank you!
    2380 days ago
  • BLUEJAY1969
    You put into words what was "making me itch" about that article! I read it at a very early hour and saved it because I wanted to read it again due to something about it not ringing quite true to me! Thank you! I agree with what you said wholeheartedly!
    2381 days ago
  • LINDA!
    Very true. emoticon
    2381 days ago
    I agree with you. Sometimes I wonder who screens the SP articles. emoticon
    2381 days ago
    emoticon Great post and well said!
    2381 days ago
    emoticon You have a very good grasp on realistic optimism coupled with accountability. They are not exclusive of each other.
    2381 days ago
    2381 days ago
  • no profile photo CD14895051
    Few things in life lend themselves to simple dichotomies and this article is a good example of why. Good catch and discussion on how optimism is not the opposite of self-reflection.

    2381 days ago
    Very interesting! Thanks for sharing!

    2381 days ago
    Good catch!

    I wish you success in your journey! emoticon

    Visiting from the Fearless Fuchsias.
    2381 days ago
    2381 days ago
    I read that article a while back and noticed it was an all or nothing, but couldn't quite pinpoint why. I do agree with you that we can be optimistic and still hold ourselves accountable while trying to figure out what we can do differently.
    2381 days ago
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    Disclaimer: Weight loss results will vary from person to person. No individual result should be seen as a typical result of following the SparkPeople program.

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