What is Optimism?

Discover 3 insights that will change the way you look at optimism

If you describe optimism as the light at the end of the tunnel, you’re not too far from the truth.

After reading over 20 books and 20 research papers, I discovered that optimism is much more than that. And this new information feels like a hidden gem.

What is optimism

1. Optimism is not just one thing – it feels like a lifestyle

Most people see optimism as the light at the end of the tunnel. But optimism is more than that.

Optimism is connected to depression, helplessness, pessimism, thinking, building habits, goal setting, worrying, anxiety, and more.

When you say that optimism is the light at the end of the tunnel, you also say that optimism only happens at the end of the experience, which is not true at all.

Optimism is the experience itself and it’s part of all these different things that we experience, that I mentioned above.

Therefore, optimism is not just the light at the end of the tunnel, but also the experience that gets you there.

2. To be successful, you need optimism

Most people believe that success is made of these two ingredients: skill and desire (or motivation).

If you have the skill to create a painting like the Mona Lisa and the desire (or motivation) to paint it, then you are successful.

While the skill is something constant, motivation comes and goes. But that’s not the actual problem.

The 3rd ingredient is optimism. It is strongly connected to the belief that you could paint the Mona Lisa.

You can have the skill and desire to create a masterpiece, but if you don’t believe you can paint the Mona Lisa, you’ll still end up painting something, but not the Mona Lisa.

3. Nostalgia can trigger depression and eventually lead to life-threatening diseases

Being nostalgic means wanting things to be the way they used to be, often from an idealistic or self-protective perspective of the past.

But when we are nostalgic, we tend to ruminate – a process of overthinking with a focus on negative feelings.

Rumination is what triggers negative-self talk.

That negative self-talk (which is often connected to a negative feeling) is mostly about the things from your past that you don’t have in your present anymore.

When the conversation you have with yourself is so negative that you feel helpless, you become depressed.

But that’s not all.

Depression leads to a decrease in catecholamines (dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine) and an increase in endorphin secretion. Endorphins can suppress the immune system's activity.

When the immune system is partially suppressed due to the connection between catecholamines and endorphins, harmful pathogens can become more active. This can increase the likelihood of diseases, some of which can be life-threatening.

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