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Are You An Optimist or a Pessimist?

By Dr. Margaret Paul
January 19, 2009

Are you an optimist or a pessimist? Are you consciously aware of whether your thoughts are mostly optimistic or mostly pessimistic? Becoming aware and choosing optimistic thoughts can change everything for you!

"I am an optimist. It does not seem too much use being anything else." - Winston Churchill

When you notice your thoughts, which kind of thoughts predominate? Do you find yourself often thinking pessimistic thoughts such as:

  • I'll never get where I want to go. I'm a loser.
  • I'm not smart enough to achieve what I want to achieve.
  • God is there for others but not for me.
  • I'm going to end up losing what I have.
  • The world is very unsafe so I have to always be vigilant.
  • Why reach out to others? No one really likes me.
  • Why put forth effort? There is no point since I don't have the talent or ability to success.
  • Some people just have good luck, but I don't.
  • Things are going too well. I just know that something bad is going to happen.
  • Life is too much for me to handle.
  • I'm going to end up alone.
  • Life for me will always be a disaster.
  • There is no point in eating well or exercising - my genetics are against me.
  • I'm not emotionally or physically healthy, and this is just the way it is. There is nothing I can do about it.
  • I don't deserve to be happy.
  • I don't deserve to be loved.
And so on...

Or, do you find yourself often thinking optimistic thoughts such as:

  • If I work hard enough and stay focused, I will get where I want to go.
  • My intelligence and abilities increase with learning.
  • No one ever succeeds without a lot of effort, and I can put in as much effort as anyone who has ever succeeded.
  • If I stay tuned into and trust my own inner knowing, I can feel safe.
  • I am a good and kind person so of course people like me.
  • It is not luck that causes people to succeed, but belief in themselves.
  • When bad things happen, these are opportunities for learning and growth.
  • Life's challenges present me with incredible learning opportunities.
  • When I am ready for partnership, someone will show up.
  • Regardless of how physically or emotionally unhealthy my parents were, I can make choices that result in physical and emotional health.
  • Everyone deserves to be happy, including me.
  • Everyone deserves to be loved, and everyone is loved by God.

You Get to Choose!

Do you realize that you have free will, which means that you get to choose how you want to think? You get to choose whether you want to be an optimist or a pessimist, and which one you choose determines your feelings and actions.

When you look at the pessimist list, can you see that thinking these kinds of thoughts create depression, procrastination, and continued failure? Can you see when you look at the optimist list how thinking these thoughts create motivation, loving action, and ultimate success in work and life?

You Are Not a Victim!

Instead of seeing yourself as a victim of circumstances, of your past, of your parents, of events or of luck, why not start to monitor your thoughts and consciously change them from negative to positive? You will likely discover that changing your thoughts changes your feelings and actions, as well as outcomes.

You have everything to gain and nothing to lose by experimenting with changing your thoughts!


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Our addictions - to busyness, substances, activities - cover up our feelings of loneliness, heartbreak and helplessness over others. Yet, when we are willing to feel these feelings with compassion toward ourselves, they move through us and we are lighter. Today, take time to stop your addictive behavior and compassionately feel the feelings you are trying to avoid.


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