The transformation to optimism essentially requires the repetition of three experiences that must be taught, modeled, and experienced before being accepted.
Yes, failure. To become an optimist, a person must experience one of the most negative events that exists; personal failure. Usually this comes from a series of mistakes that go unchecked or examined and therefore, lead to what many consider the ultimate end. Therein lays the difference between optimists and pessimists. Optimists do not see failure as an end, but a way to improve. This is extremely important to realize. We all forget from time to time that learning is impossible without mistakes. What is done with those mistakes is the key. If they are discarded as an end to a process then they are just that. Viewed positively as a chance to improve, mistakes and failures open a whole new opportunity to achieve greater success than originally believed possible.
Optimists have a deep underlying view that while bad things happen, overall the world is a positive place. This helps create successful individuals because due to the exclusion of luck or finite dates for improvement and performance. For example, optimists do not believe that they performed well because they worked hard on that single performance. Rather, their belief is that they will do well as a result of continuous learning, practice, and application. The consequence is a belief that falling short is not the result of a lack of skill or “just not being good enough,” but instead an opportunity to improve.
How a person views the genesis of events in their life has a major impact on their adaptation to and growth from them. Optimists do not blame themselves for negative occurrences in their lives. Instead, they analyze the possible causes and their role with an objective mind. This assists them in overcoming the idea that one setback means all is lost. They believe there will be eventual success because of that very fact. Optimists believe that failure is temporary and localized because mistakes are to be learned from rather than seen as evidence of their own personal weaknesses.
There is a lot of research that shows a myriad of benefits from emotional to social to physical that optimists enjoy. That being said, what more could we want than for our children and students to be optimists?
To achieve this, we must remember that it begins with us.
We must first become optimists ourselves if we are to model and teach our children to see the world in a way that will help them experience less stress, stronger emotional resiliency, and greater success no matter the challenge.
This could be difficult if we are not already optimists, but think of the reward. Whether you learn and explain it the way Martha Washington did when she said; “I’ve learned from experience that the greater part of our happiness or misery depends on our dispositions and not on our circumstances.” or take the Dr. Seuss route by saying; “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.” You need to take a step and start. If you fall a little short, just remember…it isn’t the end. Learn from it.