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Develop optimism and unleash your potential

Before we discuss optimism, let’s look at what it is not. Optimism is not a naïve assumption that everything will always turn out fine, a rose-coloured view of the world where there are no worries.

Optimism is a mindset, that is characterised by maintaining positive expectations for your important future outcomes. It consists of the stories you tell yourself and the way you interpret the circumstances and events of your life.

“You know you are in deep trouble; so you face the brutal facts of the challenge you’re facing. But at the same time you feel deeply that you will prevail.”

James Stockdale.

James Stockdale was a prisoner of war for over seven years in Vietnam. Stockdale’s perspective on acknowledging the reality of your challenges while still holding on to the belief that things will work out, became known as the Stockdale Paradox. And this became a central takeaway from research subsequently conducted by Dr Dennis Charney. Dr Charney studied a variety of people who had survived adversity in it’s most extreme forms and yet came out without depression, PTSD, etc. He then compiled a set of characteristics that set these people apart, with the number one characteristic being – Optimism.

The benefits of optimism are incredible:

· Positive emotions and the associated thoughts can undo the effects of negative experiences.

· When optimistic people experience the same levels of anxiety and frustration associated with adversity, they are more able to let go of the negativity, shift their attention to what is positive, worry less and apply more effort over a longer period.

· Optimism is the most powerful predictor of resilience.

· When we are in an optimistic mindset, we are happier because we enjoy the anticipation that comes with it.

How can we grow our optimism?

· Adversity will come your way! So grow your ability to lean into it, find the lessons that will help you grow and push forward with a problem- solving mindset.

· Stop listening to yourself and start talking to yourself. Our mindset is determined by the stories we tell ourselves.

· Healthy optimism does not mean that we are naïve, Acknowledge the challenge, prepare for the challenge but always believe that you will prevail.

How do you deal with adversity?

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