Optimism: the idea that our cup is half full, not half empty. Very Well Mind describes optimism as having “hope and confidence in success and a positive future.” I think that is a very good way to describe optimism, it helps us see the light at the end of the tunnel and reminds us that everything will be okay in the end. However, optimism does not mean that you are delusional and believe that you can do anything you want regardless of the circumstances or outcome. Optimism plays a huge role not only in our daily lives, but in our school life too. If students do not regard their learning with optimism, they may be passive in their learning or stop trying.
So how do we help our students and ourselves be better optimists and look on the bright side? First – it is important to understand what optimism is. As stated previously by Very Well Mind Optimism is having hope and confidence that positive outcomes will occur. Berkeley notes that optimism is the expectation that good things will happen. This article by Berkeley also explains the difference between realistic and unrealistic optimism. Realistic optimism is understanding that you may not win the lottery or be a Division One athlete – you are still optimistic in hoping that it will happen, but you also understand that there is a chance you might not attain that goal. Unrealistic Optimism is believing that no matter what happens, you will win the lottery and become a billionaire. For a more teen friendly version of the Berkeley article please check out this article by TeensHealth.
So how does optimism benefit us other than helping us look at the glass half full? Well, Optimism can increase resiliency in children and adults, it can also help undo some aspects of stress and anxiety. The article “The Benefits of Optimism Are Real” from the Atlantic and this article from Happify go into more detail about how optimism helps reduce stress. Not only does optimism help decrease stress and anxiety, but it can also help with heart health. Harvard and the Heart and Stroke Foundation note in their articles that being optimistic can help patients heal after cardiovascular surgery, decrease blood pressure, and even decrease future cardiovascular issues. Not only are there health and relaxation benefits from optimism, but studies have shown that children do better academically when they are more optimistic.
There are many ways to increase our optimism, but one important way is to slow down, and practice mindfulness. Very Well Mind notes that practicing mindfulness and gratitude can help you become more optimistic as you start to see the positive sides of life. Check out our blog posts on mindfulness and gratitude for more ideas and information. Greater Good notes that it is important for parents and guardians to be affectionate with their children and model optimism in their own lives to help their children be more optimistic.
We hope that this information helps you see the glass half full and the silver lining more often. Be mindful to avoid the trap of toxic positivity and remember genuine optimism is not only good for your mood, but it’s good for your health too!