What Is Optimism?  by John Ryder, Ph.D.  

Whatever optimism is, we definitely need a lot of it now.  It is like the electricity in the wiring that makes everything work.  The important question is how to generate
more of this good stuff?  Becoming optimistic is not just seeing the 'glass half full.'  There is actually a right way and wrong way of being optimistic.  The typical notion is
that you are supposed to be positive, see the silver lining, ignore the bad things going on and then your attitude will bring on the good things.  Wrong.  The truth is that
being blindly optimistic is more likely to lead to failure rather than success.

The secret to the best attitude is thinking optimistically, that is focusing on all the most favorable results and seeking the best ways of reaching them.  Optimism alone can
really take you down the wrong path very easily.  However, when you combine the positive attitude with thinking (analyzing, comparing and debating) you then have a
winning strategy.  The key is visualizing the most desirable goals and then figuring out the most clever ways to reaching them.  

Optimism can be described in countless ways because it is not a single strategy, it is a multitude of positive possibilities.  Whenever the attitude is directed towards the
brighter, happier, healthier, wealthier, or most positive outcome we can refer to it as optimistic.  That means your first task is to consider your situation and decide what
are the most favorable goals.  Then you must think optimistically, (the operational word is think) what steps will most likely take you in that direction.  The third factor to
develop is your ability to change perspectives when things look bad.  This is when you are able to escape the gravitational forces pulling you down because of the troubles,
and identify the most positive aspect of what is happening; this is emotionally uplifting.  In times of troubles, like we have now, it is essential to keep our spirits high and
our perspective positive because these forces are most likely to help us conquer the negative ones.  

These three simple steps make optimism sound really simple to apply in everyday life, but truthfully, to be good at this game is the art of life and the science of success.  
The more you practice the more easily you can remain optimistic.  These skills are not based on intelligence or experience because I know many senior people who are
intelligent, and yet are very pessimistic.  Unfortunately, it is easier to be negative about life than positive.  

So if I was forced to define optimism I would say that we can all easily embrace the fundamental attitude of this virtue by simply never giving up.  This is the basic
concept everyone can follow, if you want to be an optimist,  never, ever give up.  Just have that endless faith that it will all work out somehow and remember the bigger
an effort you make to think positive about reaching your goals, the more likely you will eventually reach them.  

May I suggest that you write down
"THINK POSITIVE" on a piece of paper and pin it up on the wall.  Reminding yourself to be more optimistic the right way will bring
out the best in you.  Also, research has proven that an optimistic attitude will keep you healthier, happier and more successful.  Don't let all the negativity surrounding you
limit your positive energy, put up the sign and join the optimists for a better life!

John Ryder, Ph.D. is a psychologist, a mental fitness expert and author of Positive Directions.  He has a private practice in New York City.  For more information and
tools to stay positive visit his website

www.JohnRyderPhD.com      or to see the book visit    www.PositiveDirectionsBook.com
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