I took away the most interesting quote from a recent article on the power of positive thinking: “Optimism is fuel for quality of life.” To summarize, people who have the “glass half full” mentality tend to preform better at work, have better overall health and live longer.
They argue for what’s called “conditional optimism,” where you take deliberate action to positively impact your future. As I understand it, this is the difference between being hopeful something good will happen to you and going out, gathering tools and resources, trying your best and then being hopeful your efforts will be successful.
I’ve told the story of what I consider the darkest time in my life, many years ago when the company was bankrupt on paper, in addition to a personal life that was extra tough. At that point, optimism felt like it was my only choice. I tried not to just wait and wish, figuring if I put one foot in front of the other and keep walking, I could eventually get out of the valley. I kept moving, with a plan in hand, knowing “I would eventually get better,” and I did. Many years later, the optimism has paid off in the form of a career I enjoy (most days) and a company that does meaningful work, providing jobs for a lot of folks.
The takeaway is that optimism isn’t just hope. It has to be combined with action. Small steps or leaps, one has got to just keep moving.