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What is optimism? It is the belief that our future will contain factors which we value. Optimism has various aspects:

  1. Thoughts. We think that our future will be pleasant.
  2. Imagination. Our fantasies depict favorable conditions.
  3. Energy tones. We feel hope and excitement regarding our future.
  4. Actions. We act as if the desired conditions will occur; e.g., we attend classes to prepare for the job promotion which we believe that we will attain.

Optimism is not the same as "positive thinking."  

  1. Our perceptions.
    • Optimism. We perceive adversity but we believe that we can overcome it.
    • Positive thinking. We tend to deny the existence of the adversity as we gaze "through rose-colored glasses."
  2. Our predictions.
    • Optimism. We believe that we will pass a test for which we are have studied.
    • Positive thinking. We hope that we will pass a test for which we might or might not have studied.
  3. Our actions.
    • Optimism. We work toward our dreams, because we believe that we can achieve our dreams. Because we acknowledge that failure is a reality, we don't become overconfident and we don't "trust" that everything will automatically come together for us; instead, our optimism gives us a general boldness while we "cover all bases."
    • Positive thinking. We tend to be physically passive; instead, we try to control events through "magical" thinking, as though the thoughts alone are capable of manipulating conditions.

The benefits from optimism.  

  1. Optimism allows motivation. We are more likely to take action toward a goal if we feel that it is attainable. In contrast, pessimists don't even try.
  2. Optimism maintains our momentum despite the inevitable failures. When we experience failures along the way, we don't give up easily; tenacity is essential when we encounter setbacks setbacks on the way to an reachable goal. We learn from the setbacks, and then we try a different approach. In contrast, pessimists give up, and they succumb to depression and apathy.
  3. Optimism can help us to sustain a mental focus. We can direct our thoughts toward constructive problem-solving, instead of stagnating in the distractions of pessimism and worry. (However, we could be equally distracted by optimistic fantasies of our future wealth.)
  4. Optimism provides an expansive field in which the ego can function properly. We are giving permission for the ego to work toward our goals. In contrast, pessimism cripples the ego's operation by giving implied instructions that it's natural goals are not to be attained.

Techniques for developing optimism.

  1. Archetypal field-work.
    • Self-talk. For example: "Life is good." "My happiness will continue into the future." "I accept responsibility for my future." "Things work out well because I do whatever needs to be done." "Good things happen to me."
    • Directed imagination. We can visualize ourselves in situations where we are successful and happy; for example, we imagine ourselves living in the home which we expect to buy someday.
    • Energy toning. We cultivate the energy tones of hope, enthusiasm, self-confidence, pleasant anticipation, etc.
    • The "as if" principle. We act as if the desired conditions are already occurring; for example, we are optimistic that we will be able to afford a new car, so we visit dealerships to look at the cars.
  2. Intuition. Intuition can guide us toward goals which are likely to be attainable (because they are supported by the dynamics which are perceived by intuition); therefore, our optimism is well-founded.
  3. Self-image. We can be optimistic about success only if our self-image says that we tend to be a successful person.
  4. Recognition of positive patterns. We sustain our optimism by discerning a pattern of success in our life; i.e., every experience is either "a success" or it is "a learning experience" (in which we "successfully" learned information and skills which will increase our possibility of success in the future). We acknowledge our failures for just enough time to learn from them, but then we return our attention to our successes, and we study the pattern of success by which we are increasing our knowledge and abilities. In contrast, pessimists see a pattern of failure, so they cling tighter to their cynicism as a way of avoiding disappointment; they don't anticipate success, so they are less disappointed when it doesn't happen.
  5. Faith. Optimism tends to be a reliance on our own abilities and the general goodness of human life; faith employs a larger viewpoint -- that the universe itself is based on principles of fairness and abundance.
  6. Material preparedness. We don't rely on mere "wishful thinking"; instead, we perform the tasks which make those wishes more likely to manifest themselves. For example, if we are optimistic about our future financial security, we back up our optimism by opening a savings account, and studying for a better job, etc.


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