Optimism and happiness are interconnected. With the world around us changing as rapidly as it is in our business environment these days, being optimistic can make a very significant difference. Yet, I sometimes hear online and offline comments that being optimistic is not realistic, or even “bad.” Somehow, people think that realism means we need to keep focusing on and talking about “what is,” the existing problem. Well, I agree with Einstein regarding the objectivity of “reality”: Reality is an illusion; albeit a very persistent one.

It is persistent because we keep focusing on “What is.” While I trust my informal learning and experience over science, science surely can help us with finding a common ground rooted in some objectivity. Since our life is a series of subjective experiences—meaning research can show how we assign the meaning to the events in our lives—it is getting more difficult to simply say, “That’s just the way life is.” The question is, for whom?

Your conclusions about what is real can differ from mine. An important issue to consider is this: Since our brain creates our experiences according to the focus of our attention, why would we continuously focus on what is currently wrong or what we don’t want? Healthy optimism is about assessing where you are, reflecting on viable solutions that feel meaningful and purposeful, and directing you toward your desired outcome.

The key is to keep your attention on the results you desire. Just angrily complaining and talking about “what is” actually distracts you from viable solutions. It just plain feels bad and is also bad for your health.

Yes, your health.

If we get clear about what we want, why it is meaningful for us and where we want to go, we can fuel our actions and intentions with passion instead of anger. We will be more pleasant and healthier and start to enjoy life. We must take responsibility for our choices and stop playing the victim role. If things don’t turn out well, learn from them instead of fearing disappointment or failure. Nothing is truly predictable.

Yet, we are more likely to reach our goals and to effect change the more self-aware we are regarding how our brain and mind operate. We currently direct our brain and attention in such a way that it keeps us stuck. When we operate with more self-mastery, we can clarify the current situation, gain insightful solutions, and deal with issues in the present moment as they arise. Then we can get on with life, moving persistently in the direction of our goal.

As research shows, our brain has an “Optimism Bias” for a good reason. If nothing else, optimism helps you to avoid being chronically angry, depressed, and spreading negativity all over everyone around you. In summary, here is how optimism that is grounded plays out:

1. Assess “what is” the current situation that you “don’t want.”

2. Is there anything that needs acute management today? If so, manage it.

3. Reflect on the end result you desire, and get clear about “why” it is important.

4. Quiet your mind and ask questions before running around frantically “doing stuff.”

5. As your options become clear, choose the most appropriate and create a strategy, plan, and action steps. Keep your eye on the prize with positive expectations!

Of course, if bumps occur, course correct. You can accomplish more with positive expectation. You will more likely get new “ahas,” and you will keep your stress levels down. Optimism has its rewards. It surely has worked for me.

“People are just about as happy as they make up their mind to be.” ~Abraham Lincoln

Author's Bio: 

Valencia Ray, M.D. teaches business owners and corporate leaders how their amazing brain can actually hijack personal power -- not in the abstract, but in the context of integrating business and personal life. Dr. Ray, a board-certified eye surgeon and medical business owner for over 20 years before selling her practice, shares her own life changing process. By sharing her story, she helps others to expand their vision and learn that by living with purpose and confidence, it is possible to have a more integrated, healthier lifestyle – with less struggle, more inner peace and more abundance.

For more information and to contact her regarding dynamic, inspirational keynotes, trainings in collaborative leadership and team building, entrepreneurship and coaching programs, visit her website at http://www.ValenciaRay.com