Intelligent Optimism: The Power of Optimistic Thinking

October 8, 2013 | By | Reply More

trademarks and copyrightsYou might fairly ask just what optimism really is. Well first, optimism is not just a Pollyanna everything is wonderful attitude. And it goes beyond the concept of positive thinking.

Optimism is actually a refined mental style of how one chooses to respond to life. Webster’s Dictionary defines optimism as *an inclination to put the most favorable construction upon actions and events, or to anticipate the best possible outcome.*

But you might fairly ask how you can be optimistic in the face of today’s often overwhelming challenges? OK. Life CAN throw us some curve balls at times. But even in the midst of personal turmoil and overwhelming crisis, the same thing holds true: We choose how we interpret what is happening to and around us, and we also choose how we will respond.

Our Greatest Life-Success Power

This ability to choose our mental outlooks and actions is actually the greatest life-success power we humans have.

Virtually everything happening to you right now offers this choice. And it doesn’t even matter if that thing is *good* or *bad.? Even if something undesirable happens, you still have the power to choose how you will interpret and respond to that event.

It is admittedly easy to feel overwhelmed at times, and to fall into a habit of making non-optimistic choices.

Such an attitude meltdown often comes hand-in-hand with overwhelming stress. But each moment you DO have a choice to either let life wear you down, or to set your mind in a more positive direction.

Mayo Clinic researcher Dr. Toshihiko Maruta reports that optimists have a dramatically higher level of physical and mental functioning than pessimists. *How you perceive what goes on around you and how you interpret it has an impact on your longevity, and also affect the quality of your entire life.*

This is also at the very heart of financial health. Why do I say this? Ask almost any self-made millionaire about their path to prosperity and you’ll get a similar story: Just like learning any other skill, financial success is learned. And the learning process is based on trial and error.

Consider the term trial and error. A *trial* means you are going to try a lot of different approaches to achieving financial success, and *error* means not all of them will work.

I have personally been there myself. Here’s the big lesson I have learned along the way: One of the most important tools in your financial tool bag is the ability to remain optimistic. There are other important tools to be sure — like passion, drive and focus. But without optimism, you will never get beyond where you are today.

Optimism is NOT about denying reality. And it is not about being idealistic or chasing after some totally unrealistic condition or situation

Intelligent Optimism

Anyone can learn to be optimistic. All it requires is a good grasp of reality, along with practice.

  • Intelligent optimists do not deny problems, they adjust to them while still seeking an opportunity for progress.
  • Intelligent optimists do not allow themselves to get carried away by circumstances they cannot change. They instead focus on things within their grasp, and that they can enjoy. Intelligent optimists also know that for every problem there is at least the beginning of a solution, and that the search for that solution can be inspirational in itself.
  • Intelligent optimists are also not afraid of negative thoughts, which they realize are just internal messages they can choose to either listen to, or reject.

Just Nod Yes

Here is a fast way you develop intelligent optimism: Face the reality of your current situation, identify what you cannot change, and go to work on what you CAN change or improve.

But here’s an interesting tool that can move you along even faster: Learn how to activate key portions of your brain by nodding your head *yes.*

A recent Ohio State University study proved that nodding or shaking your head serves as self-validation that confirms to yourself how you feel about your own thoughts.

The researchers found that nodding your head up and down is, in effect, telling yourself that you have confidence in your own thoughts, And it is important to note that this is true whether those thoughts are positive or negative. Shaking your head does the opposite: It gives you less confidence in your own thoughts.

Try this: As you go about your day today, be aware of how you are responding to what is happening around you.

Try making a conscious choice to respond, rather than just automatically react in your customary way. And nod your head to remind yourself that you are holding a positive, intelligent optimist attitude.


 Dr. Jill Ammon-Wexler is a former consultant to the Pentagon and a Presidential Commission, and personal advisor to top executives, executive teams, and individuals around the world. Her *Take Charge* ecourse is being used by thousands of serious success seekers in 117 countries around the world. For more information visit

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