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Are You a Youthful Optimist or a Learned Pessimist?

Are You a Youthful Optimist or a Learned Pessimist?

Is the glass half empty or half full?

    There’s no question that the school of hard knocks can be, well, hard.

    When life becomes tough, many of us stop chasing our dreams and retreat under a big ugly flannel security blanket. Let’s face it: we’re terrified of failure.

    We’re afraid that we might not succeed, that our dreams are only pipe-dreams, that “reality” has to be hard because it is for every body else.

    Though we enter the world with a sense of youthful optimism: excitement about opportunity, a willingness to risk it all, and a belief that everything will turn out our way (In one survey, 96% of 18-24 year-olds agreed with the statement, “I am very sure that someday I will get to where I want to be in life”).*

    This is the time in life when we think that we can change rule the world.

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    And…then at least one of two things happens:

    1. You fail at something on your first, second, and/or third try.
    2. You spend too much time around uninspired people who view the world as a competitive place full of struggles, competition, and tears.

    And…after a few years, when you haven’t miraculously reached your dreams, you start to get discouraged. You start thinking:

    “Maybe they’re right.”

    “Maybe I’m just being a lazy optimist. I should settle down and do what is expected of me.”

    You do what you think is called, “growing up”.

    I won’t sugar coat it, you’re becoming a coward.

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    In his book, Happier: Learn the Secrets to Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment, Harvard psychology professor Tal Ben-Shahar writes:

    “When we fail to attain a desire outcome, we often extrapolate from that experience the belief that we have no control over our lives or over certain parts of it. Such thinking leads to despair.”

    Thus, overcoming this feeling of defeat is your ultimate goal.

    To do so, you need one thing…and one thing only: Perseverance.

    Here’s a true story about how this plays out in the real world…

    When she was a child, my grandma knew that she wanted to become a chemist. She was of the first generation of an Italian immigrant family living in the Bronx. Her father died when she was two-years-old. Her mother wanted her to become a piano teacher.

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    In order to beat the odds, she had to work odd jobs for mean nuns, graduate high school at 16, and endure constant questioning from her mother: “when will you stop all of this nonsense?”

    It was not okay for a woman to become a chemist, and the world tried to make sure that she knew it.

    But instead of giving up, she persevered.

    Instead of hanging around people who didn’t support her, she surrounded her self with likeminded scientists (like my grandfather, whom she met at Columba while earning their PhDs).

    Her story inspires me every time I hear it.

    The thing is, my grandmother never made excuses.

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    Some of the excuses we tell ourselves are:

    1. I don’t know anyone who has done it before/ too many people are already trying.
    2. I don’t have enough (money, power, skills, education, time)
    3. If I was going to do it, I would have done it already.
    4. I have too many responsibilities.
    5. I am too old or young.
    6. I will never be the best. Too many people are ahead of me.
    7. It’s not the right time.

    But, what if we simply rephrased these excuses into empowering beliefs?

    1. It doesn’t matter what other people are doing, this is my dream.
    2. I have more than enough resources to get started.
    3. There’s no time like the present!
    4. My number one priority is living passionately.
    5. My age gives me a unique perspective, and is only a number.
    6. There will always be someone to learn from.
    7. It will never be perfect, so I might as well stop stalling and start now.

    Can I get a “hellz yeah” for youthful optimism?

    Look, I’m not saying that you should ignore the lessons that you’ve learned from your experiences. You’ve earned those. Instead, my suggestion is to learn learn to perfect your skills and become an even better person without losing that inspired-to-be-alive feeling.

    Think you can do it?

    I know you can.

    Take action right now to write down the empowering phrases that will benefit you the most and put them somewhere where you will see them every day.

    *Survey mentioned comes from Horbblower, M. (1997, June 9). Great Xpectations. Time, pp. 58-68.

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    Last Updated on August 20, 2018

    Quit Your Job If You Don’t Like It, No Matter What

    Quit Your Job If You Don’t Like It, No Matter What

    Do you know that feeling? The one where you have to wake up to go to your boring 9-5 job to work with the same boring colleagues who don’t appreciate what you do.

    I do, and that’s why I’ve decided to quit my job and follow my passion. This, however, requires a solid plan and some guts.

    The one who perseveres doesn’t always win. Sometimes life has more to offer when you quit your current job. Yes, I know. It’s overwhelming and scary.

    People who quit are often seen as ‘losers’. They say: “You should finish what you’ve started”.

    I know like no other that quitting your job can be very stressful. A dozen questions come up when you’re thinking about quitting your job, most starting with: What if?

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    “What if I don’t find a job I love and regret quitting my current job?”
    “What if I can’t find another job and I get in debt because I can’t pay my bills?”
    “What if my family and friends judge me and disapprove of the decisions I make?”
    “What if I quit my job to pursue my dream, but I fail?

    After all, if you admit to the truth of your surroundings, you’re forced to acknowledge that you’ve made a wrong decision by choosing your current job. But don’t forget that quitting certain things in life can be the path to your success!

    One of my favorite quotes by Henry Ford:

    If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.

    Everything takes energy

    Everything you do in life takes energy. It takes energy to participate in your weekly activities. It takes energy to commute to work every day. It takes energy to organize your sister’s big wedding.

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    Each of the responsibilities we have take a little bit of our energy. We only have a certain amount of energy a day, so we have to spend it wisely.  Same goes for our time. The only things we can’t buy in this world are time and energy. Yes, you could buy an energy drink, but will it feel the same as eight hours of sleep? Will it be as healthy?

    The more stress there is in your life, the less focus you have. This will weaken your results.

    Find something that is worth doing

    Do you have to quit every time the going gets touch? Absolutely not! You should quit when you’ve put everything you’ve got into something, but don’t see a bright future in it.

    When you do something you love and that has purpose in your life, you should push through and give everything you have.

    I find star athletes very inspiring. They don’t quit till they step on that stage to receive their hard earned gold medal. From the start, they know how much work its going to take and what they have to sacrifice.

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    When you do something you’re really passionate about, you’re not in a downward spiral. Before you even start you can already see the finish line. The more focus you have for something, the faster you’ll reach the finish.

    It is definitely possible to spend your valuable time on something you love and earn money doing it. You just have to find out how — by doing enough research.

    Other excuses I often hear are:

    “But I have my wife and kids, who is going to pay the bills?”
    “I don’t have time for that, I’m too busy with… stuff” (Like watching TV for 2 hours every day.)
    “At least I get the same paycheck every month if I work for a boss.”
    “Quitting my job is too much risk with this crisis.”

    I understand those points. But if you’ve never tried it, you’ll never know how it could be. The fear of failure keeps people from stepping out of their comfort zone.

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    I’ve heard many people say, “I work to let my children make their dream come true”. I think they should rephrase that sentence to: “I pursue my dreams — to inspire and show my children anything is possible.” 

    Conclusion

    Think carefully about what you spend your time on. Don’t waste it on things that don’t brighten your future. Instead, search for opportunities. And come up with a solid plan before you take any impulsive actions.

    Only good things happen outside of your comfort zone.

    Do you dare to quit your job for more success in life?

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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