Is being hopeful and optimistic a recipe for disappointment?

Mental Health

Q: I have trouble trusting that the United States is on the downward slope of this pandemic. Is being hopeful and optimistic a recipe for disappointment? Am I being alarmist or am I missing some key data?

A: Optimism is healthy … even if it feels challenging right now.

Years ago a friend of mine and I had a debate about whether it was better to be a Negative Nancy or an Upbeat Ursula (yes, I came up with that gem myself.)

Today, and all days, I vote for being an Upbeat Ursula … Safely.

🤓 Fun fact: Positivity and optimism are not the same thing.

😀 Positivity is putting a happy face on everything and telling ourselves everything is great… even when it isn’t.

💡 Optimism is about accepting reality as it is, dealing with it, and then focusing emotional attention on the good things on the horizon.

Yes, COVID rates might go up again. We can make sure that we have contingency plans. But optimism isn’t a bad thing. Research repeatedly points to correlations between optimism and better health, positive relationships and career success.

For many, being optimistic isn’t easy right now. We’ve suffered, and watched other suffer. We’ve been afraid for a long time.

Focusing on what matters most to you, why it matters and how to make it happen (think: concrete things you can do today or tomorrow to live in keeping with your values) boosts your sense of agency. When we feel in control of our lives, it’s easier to make the choice to be optimistic. See links below for more ideas on how to embrace optimism and purpose in your life right now.

Dr. Christine Whelan
Chief Happiness Officer of Those Nerdy Girls

On how to ask what matters most and how to make it happen

On ways to be more optimistic

On why it’s hard to be optimistic right now

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