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 fault...it's yours."
Unfortunately, I see this view all to often in my job.
"It's not my fault that my kids were taken away....it'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.
Hope everyone is having an awesomely optimistic day!