Imagine that you are a very successful entrepreneur, the owner of a very successful factory. One day your factory burns, costing you the sum of $106 Million dollars. Your insurance covers only 30% of the damage. What would you do?
Well, this happened to Thomas A. Edison in 1943. (The cost is estimated at the equivalent current dollars). How did he react?
Edison responded to this crisis by saying that he would begin reconstruction work immediately and would reopen his factory in less than 10 days. While others saw this accident as a tragedy, he saw it as an opportunity for renewing the design of his plant. Edison is the perfect example of an optimist!!
There is no doubt about the power of an optimistic mindset. So, what it is optimism? What distinguishes an optimist from a pessimist? In this blog entry I answer to these questions.
Optimism vs. Pessimism
According to psychologists, what distinguishes an optimist from a pessimist is not the frequency or the severity of adverse situation that they face, but the way they respond to those adversities. In other words, two people may be exposed to the very same adverse circumstance, however, each may respond in a dramatically different way.
Let’s see how a pessimist responds in the midst of adverse situations.
1. He blames himself for causing the situation,
2. He feels powerless and out of control,
3. He feels overwhelmed by the impact of the situation,
On the other hand, an optimist would respond as follows:
2. He focuses on changing what is under his control,
3. He Learns from his mistakes,
4. He thinks of the situation as a temporary set back
Let’s see closely how a pessimistic would respond in the midst of the current financial crisis:
Blaming himself for causing the situation
“It was my entire fault for not taking all the necessary precautions. When it comes to financial matters, I always do the same mistakes, I am a good for nothing.”
“I feel so hopeless and I do not see how I will be able to change this situation.”
Feeling overwhelmed by the situation
“My financial problems are so big and severe that I do not see a way out.” I will never be able to remedy my financial situation.”
“I will always carry the consequences of this mistake and my wife, my children and friends will lose respect for me”. “I will never forgive myself for this mistake.”
This way of thinking provokes on him to feel guilty, stress out, anxious, fearful, and powerless; which in turn immobilizes him to try to remedy the situation.
On the other hand, an optimist would respond to current financial crisis as follows:
“After all, there are many reasons why this crisis happened, and many of them are not under my control.”
“I know I could have done some things to be better prepared for this crisis. However, there is no time for regret, only to find solutions and to prepare for the future. So what I am going to do is protect my job, save money and develop an austerity plan with my family.”
“I must admit that in the past, I did not save or invest my money wisely. From now on, I will learn to take care of my money and financial assets. To do so, I will take a course on financial planning at e local community college.
“After the storm comes the calm, once the crisis passes the situation will return to normal,” and I will be better prepared to care for, manage, and invest my money.”
This way of thinking helps the optimistic person to feel in control of the situation, self confident, and motivated to take do the necessary work to confront and overcome the current financial crisis.
Summarizing, when confronting adversity, an optimist and a pessimistic think, feel and respond in a dramatic different way:
- A pessimistic feels so overwhelmed, anxious that he is incapable of confronting and overcoming the adverse situation. And,
- An optimist feels in control, motivated and confident of confronting and resolving satisfactorily the crisis.
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