Optimism is the state of having positive beliefs, and a positive outlook on life and yourself. Over-optimism is the state of being overly confident and suffering a slightly distorted, overly positive view of reality. Pessimism is the state in which one usually anticipates negative outcomes.
Optimism vs. pessimism: Is it a choice?
Experts believe that we can will ourselves to be optimistic, but that it also has a lot has to do with ourgenetic makeup and upbringing. Though no one simply “inherits” depression, each of us does inherit a unique combination of genes. And certain genetic combinations can predispose us to a particular disorder. So if you have a family history of depression, both your genetics and your upbringing might lend you to seeing the more negative side of things, a la Murphy’s Law.
Optimists are healthier
Optimists are greater risk takers
Optimists take more risks, feel stronger, self-assured, and confident, and are happier people. They are more relaxed and enthusiastic, and physically healthier.
As the Mayo Clinic suggests, optimist are less prone to anxiety. Optimists tend to take better care of themselves, eat healthier and be more heavily engaged in physical activities. They are better decision-makers because their decisions are not clouded by doubt and anxiety.
Over-optimists need a reality check
Over-optimists’ overconfidence makes them take sometimes dangerous risks. They feel the rules don’t apply to them, and they naïvely believe bad things happen only to others. So they are slightly out of touch with reality. This can play to their advantage or work against them.
Steve Jobs’ over-optimism made him the man he was. Besides being a genius, he had the confidence that he could do anything he wanted to do; that’s how self-assured he was. His life is proof of this, both the good and the bad. In Scientific American, an article by Michael Shermer mentions Jobs’ “reality distortion field.”
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