Do you consider yourself an optimist or a pessimist? Are you the one who sees the glass half full or are you the one who sees the glass half empty? Do you believe that bad luck seems to follow you wherever you go or that things never seem to work out for you? Or when things happen to you do you do them as temporary and things will always get better?
The pessimist.. You know her or him and work with them every day. You see them coming and you want to run the other way. You don’t want to answer the phone when you see their name on caller ID. You say to yourself…”Does anything good happen in their life?
Want to ruin a perfectly good day? Run into a pessimist. They will always have a list of things to complain about. What is going on in a pessimist’s mind? They tend to see events as inherently negative and discouraging. They anticipate undesirable outcomes or believe that the evil or hardships in life outweigh the good. When they add their negative self-talk to the equation it only gets worse. They feel like they have no control over what happens to them. Impossible is a word they use often.
On the other hand, the optimist is the one you want to see because they manage to uplift your spirits. They are the ones that are excited about their day and the possibilities that the day can bring. They are the ones who approach their problems from a position of empowerment. Adversity is nothing but a challenge that they are happy to conquer. They are a possibility thinker and believe that all things are possible.
As expected, being an optimist comes with many benefits. One such benefit is that optimism can improve physical health. We know that stress can be extremely dangerous to the body. Increased levels of stress have been linked to high levels of inflammation, weaker immune systems, increase in headaches, and a whole bunch of other physical symptoms. Even though optimist also experience stress, they seem to manage it better than others. They seem to deal with stress in such a way that it disappears faster than it does for most.
Martin Seligman author of Learned Optimism wanted to know whether optimists live longer than pessimists. He conducted a study and the results showed by age 45 pessimists were already less healthy than optimists. The pessimistic men had started to get sick younger and more severely than the optimistic men. And by the age of 60, pessimists were significantly sicker.
As it turns out, pessimists are more susceptible to depression, more likely to experience barriers to professional success, less likely to experience pleasure, more likely to endure challenges in their relationships, and more likely to get sick.
It just so happens to be flu season right now. Many of us have been instructed to get a flu shot in order to prevent one to two weeks of misery from the influenza virus. Our hope when we take the shot is that we will not get the flu. Studies show that pessimists have weaker immune systems which make them more susceptible to infectious diseases than optimists. In fact pessimists have twice as many infectious diseases and twice as many doctors’ visits than optimists. It’s just not healthy to be a pessimist!
Can people change from being a pessimist to an optimist? Seligman suggests that optimism may change over time, but the way people explain bad events tends to remain fixed throughout their lives. So if you are a pessimist is there hope for you? Regardless of what Seligman says, Matthew 19:26 reminds us: “But with God all things are possible.”
Here are six scriptures to move you from pessimism to optimism. Pray and meditate on them to protect yourself from negativity and pessimism and become more optimistic about your life.
1. Psalm 27: 1-3 - The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the defense of my life; Whom shall I dread? When evildoers cam upon me to devour my flesh, My adversaries and my enemies, they stumbled and fell. Though a host encamp against me, My heart will not fear; Though war arise against me, In spite of this I shall be confident.
2. Psalms 25:15 (GNB) - I look to the Lord for help at all times, and he rescues me from danger.
3. Romans 8:28 (KJV) And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
4. Philippians 4:6-7 - Don't worry about anything, but pray about everything. With thankful hearts offer up your prayers and request to God. Then, because you belong to Christ Jesus, God will bless you with peace that no one can completely understand. And this peace will control the way you think and feel.
5. Philippians 4:12-13 (CEV) - I know what it is to be poor or to have plenty, and I have lived under all kinds of conditions. I know what it means to be full or to be hungry, to have too much or too little. Christ gives me the strength to face anything.
6. Joshua 1:9 (CEV) - I've commanded you to be strong and brave. Don't ever be afraid or discouraged I am the Lord your God, and I will be there to help you wherever you go.
If you have lived with pessimism why not make the decision to become a possibility thinker and learn how to live in optimism.
Janice R Love, Author
First Lady, Mom, Stepmom and Divorce Ministry Coach