The Benefits Of Flexible Optimism

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Pop Quiz: Can you spot two facial expressions in this picture?

I read an article today by Holly Gilbert on the CNN Money Blog titled ?Women are more optimistic than men about finances.? Once again, I feel this research is subjective but :

A telephone survey carried out by Citigroup shows that 56% of women believe that business conditions will improve next year compared to 50% of men.

66% of women were hopeful that their own personal financial situations would improve, compared with 62% of men.

Lisa Caputo, CEO of Citibank’s Women & Co. business, believes that the optimism is borne out of measures taken to ensure their personal financial situation feels good to them.

One of the noteworthy effects of the latest recession in fact, has been that the unemployment rate for men has risen faster and higher than it has for women.

Hmmh!!! This article made do a bit of soul searching, review my financial situation as well as come up with a blog post. This post doesn?t address the issue of a recession or matters financial; but it attempts to promote the concept of FLEXIBLE OPTIMISM which is a contributing factor in securing a balanced approach to the struggles of life.

What Is Flexible Optimism?

Flexible Optimism is the tendency to face reality with a positive outlook without dwelling unduly on the negatives. It involves anticipating the best possible outcome in any situation.

Dr Selligman describes it as having the wisdom to assess situations and identify those that require a pessimistic inquisition, and those that call for optimism.

This approach attempts to create a balance between optimism and pessimism because it recognises the downsides of embracing excessive or false optimism and extreme pessimism.

Sir Winston Churchill states ?A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.?.

Luthans et al suggested the concept of flexible optimism involves:

  • Accepting or acknowledging the events of the past.
  • Appreciate the present and make attempts to see the positive aspects of favourable and unfavourable conditions.
  • Proactively seek for future opportunities considering your capabilities and weaknesses.

The benefits of flexible optimism are as follows:

  • It gives you a sense of control and a reason for living.
  • It stirs up internal motivation.
  • It ensures you are realistic with events, goals and ambition.
  • It helps you gain clarity and have different views/ perspectives on vital issues.
  • It ensures you stay focused and works on your limiting beliefs which try to keep you from using your abilities.
  • Research shows that it increases longevity and promotes happiness.
  • It enables you build resilience in the face of adversity.
  • It enhances various coping skills used to combat life?s struggles.
  • It creates a sense of fulfillment and satisfaction.
  • It makes you a better problem solver.
  • It reduces your level of stress and anxiety.
  • It builds and promotes positive relationships.
  • It allows you manage failure carefully and properly.
  • It creates a positive anticipation of the future.
  • It makes you proactive and increases your level of productivity.
  • It allows you exercise a bit of caution when taking risks.
  • It develops the attribute of patience.
  • It improves your physiological and psychological well being.
  • It increases your tolerance levels because it lowers the risk of you being irritated by little things.
  • It creates an attitude of gratitude and gives room for self expression.
  • It promotes self confidence and boosts self esteem.

There are several ways flexible optimism can be achieved. They are as follows:

  • Don?t fall into the trap of feeling hopeless.
  • Be realistic about your expectations.
  • Accept the past, manage the present and work hard towards the future.
  • Make the best use of all that you have for now and aspire to grow positively in every area of your life.
  • There is no point living in self denial. Be authentic, be yourself and be confident in who you are.
  • Accept you are human with imperfections.
  • Be selective of what you read, hear or watch from the media because excessive media influence could dampen your spirits.
  • Develop the habit of using positive affirmations constructively.
  • Stay calm when overwhelmed with the issues of life.
  • Be thankful for everything you have, who you are, the people around you?..  
  • Work on your personal development. Your ability to succeed in life will depend on your personal drive to take each opportunity as stepping stones to fulfilling your lifelong dream.
  • Be gracious enough to accept things you cannot change.  There will always be things you cannot change no matter how hard you work at it.
  • Reflect and focus on the good things that have occurred in your life.
  • Know when to call it quits. Some things aren?t just worth the effort and time you put into it.
  • Be passionate. Embrace life and everything it stands for with love and passion.

Have you been able to spot the facial expressions?

I look forward to your comments and suggestions.


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