OPTIMISM ABOUT THE FUTURE
The final tense of optimism is the future tense.
Not only do happy people see their past and present in optimistic terms, they also see their future as being bright and promising.
Here is where optimism truly becomes the “saving grace” of happy people. No matter how bleak and desperate things might appear in the present, a belief in a better future appears to be essential for a person to go forward in life.
In this sense, at least, most everyone tends to be more optimistic than pessimistic. According to the research, most Americans appear to be optimistic about their individual future (9, 87, 130). Although the figures are down somewhat in the last few years, all national opinion polls conducted over the last four decades, show that the vast majority of Americans are optimistic about the future of the world, as well as their own particular circumstances. Most people think things in the future will be better. But this general faith in the future is nothing to compared to the optimism happy people display…
Just like the way they view their past and present, the way happy people look at their future tends to be of a much stronger and more pervasive quality than the modest optimism most others possess about the future. This unshakable faith in a bright and improved future not only involves the long-term perspective, it tends to permeate the immediate future as well. Consider the following situations…
You get a notice from the postal authority regarding a certified letter. Have you won a big give-away? Or are you being sued?
For the first time since you’ve been working for the company, your boss invites you to join him for lunch. Is it a promotion he has in mind, or are you about to be fired?
You get a message from your tax preparer to call immediately. Are you about to be audited, or did a larger than expected refund come your way?
The principal at your child’s school has been trying to reach you all day. Has your child been in an accident? Or has you child been selected for a national award?
Your sweetheart leaves you a little note which says, “You’re going to get it tonight!” Are you in for a special treat? Or are you in for a serious chewing-out?
Who knows what the future holds? But in the meantime, how happy you remain depends on how you interpret things. Certainly the worst could happen. You’re about to be sued, your boss is about the fire you, the IRS is going to audit you, your child’s been in an accident, and you’re going to get a big scolding from your spouse. But why stew in misery when a positive outcome might be at hand? Perhaps you have won a contest; maybe you’re about to get a promotion; possibly you get a large tax refund; perhaps your child has been selected for an award; and maybe your sweetheart has a special evening in mind.
Arguably, you’d be a lot happier as you go through life if you could anticipate upcoming events more positively, no matter how they actually turn out. If the worst happens, you can deal with it then. But until you know for sure, why let pessimistic predictions make you unhappy?