Does optimism mean you have to be happy all the time? As humans we experience a wide range of emotions. On the negative (“minus”) end of the spectrum, those emotions can include worry, fear, anxiety, hate, worry, frustration, bitterness, jealousy. On the positive (“plus”) end of the spectrum, we have love, joy, peace, gratitude, hope, and happiness.
For simplicity’s sake, let’s say that Optimism is the umbrella for emotions that put us into the “plus” category. Can we be in the “plus” category all of the time?
I had a conversation with a fellow coach the other day, and we talked about what it feels like to have that “mountaintop” experience—the feeling you get when you’ve been at, say, a retreat or an amazing conference where you’ve connected with like-minded people who have inspired you. You come away believing that things are possible. That you can do it. That there is hope.
Then I posed the question:
How much of the time do you think we can live in that “mountaintop” space?
What is your answer to that question? 10%? 20%? 30%? 40%? 50%? 60%? 70%? 80%? 90%? 100%?
Our brains look for evidence of our beliefs. If we think the answer is 10%, we will prove ourselves right. If we think the answer is 90%, we again will prove ourselves right.
So back to the question of the day—does optimism mean you have to be happy all the time? What if we can train ourselves to live in the 90th percentile! I am heading there, and live is wonderful from this perspective!
And yes, we will have moments when unwelcome circumstances happen—goals don’t get achieved on schedule, sickness comes, people we love die. (Grief should never be ignored, but it can be wrapped in gratitude and peace.)
Or, on a smaller scale—an email comes that contains words that hurt your feelings, a jealous feeling flashes for a moment when you see someone experiencing the success that you want for yourself, a loved one says something unkind to you.
These circumstances can be wonderful and welcome reminders of where you want your focus to be. When you put your hand atop a hot stove burner, you don’t leave it there. You remove it immediately. Likewise, when you experience the flash of frustration/fear/worry, notice that the “stove is hot” and pull yourself away from it.
Click HERE to access Brain-Based Coaching Tips on Mountain-Top Optimism.