Community Add OnsFourteen Fundamentals

Fundamental Seven: Develop Positive, Optimistic Thinking


Optimism regarding the future is, in essence, a belief that things will always turn-out for the best. It is a faith that the future holds a brighter and more fruitful day for all of us. It is an expectation that life always progresses through it’s immediate ups and downs to a higher and better plane.

Yet, how can this kind of view lead to happiness when, as we saw in the last chapter, that high expectations tend to lead to disappointment?

Indeed, there appears to be quite a conflict between what we are saying now and what we introduced in the previous chapter on “Lower Your Expectations and Aspirations.” Here we are indicating that optimism regarding the future is an expectations that events will turn-out positively. Yet earlier, we suggested that such high expectations tend to lead to unhappiness. As both high optimism and low expectations are typical of happiness according to the data, it would seem as if we have a mystery on our hands…

At first glance, it would look like optimism, as the anticipation of a bright future, runs counter to the theory of low expectations and aspirations we just discussed. We just saw that high expectations create disappointments when actual circumstances fall below those expectations. So how can high optimism have just the opposite effect? We’d expect the optimist, with his high general expectations of life, would find actual events disappointing. Yet apparently this is not the case, since highly optimistic people are happy. Where lies the explanation?

The difference, apparently, centers on the specificity of the expectation…

Most of the expectations people hold are rather specific. For example, “Tomorrow I expect to be given that important assignment at the office” or “I just know my team will win the big game Friday.” But the expectation inherent in the optimism happy people have is rather general and nonspecific. The optimist simply predicts that things will “work out for the best.”

If a specific outcome is expected, happiness depends entirely on how things eventuate. Say you don’t get that important assignment — or your team looses the big game — these outcomes will certainly make for disappointment.

But what if the expectation was more general, like “whatever happens is for the best”? Then it doesn’t matter whether you get the assignment or not. Either way you win! The same with the big game: whether your team wins or looses, it must be for the best!

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[…] 10  Fundamental Seven: Develop Positive,  Optimistic Thinking […]


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