Style Observer

THE OPTIMISTS - Andrea Dempster-Chung

co-Founder Kingston Creative

Sunday, November 11, 2018

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It seemed the right thing to do ahead of diving straight into the 'silly season', and in this time of incredible love and hate, confidence and fear, fake news and alternative truths, to hear shared voices of optimism. SO asked the question: What's your take on optimism?

Oxford defines optimism as “hopefulness and confidence about the future or the success of something.” At its core, self-confidence is the most basic form of optimism and it's instilled at a very early age. You have to believe that you can be successful and that you can make things happen. That hopefulness and confidence then extends out in concentric circles to your family, your community, your country and to the world.

Optimists have a positive outlook about the future and have a tendency to act on it. Despite how impossible a situation may appear; optimists are able to envision a positive outcome. That vision then motivates them to take action and make change, because they really believe that they can make a difference. You see optimism reflected in the flood of women and minorities running for office in the US. Despite the maelstrom of despair in their political climate, they believe that the future can be positive and this motivates them to be change-makers.

Optimists make great entrepreneurs and here's why; one study reported that half of all start-ups fail in the first four years, while yet another reported that in the US, 96% of all businesses fail within 10 years. In the face of those statistics, you pretty much have to be an optimist to start a business. Optimists are able to see opportunity where others only see risk, uncertainty and failure. Try looking for the opportunity in every situation, in a traffic detour, in a delayed flight, a recession - and if you are looking for a positive or a good business opportunity, you usually find it.

Optimists are able to reframe failure and I think this is a key ingredient to being successful. In my book there's no such thing as failure as long as you've learned from it. Oftentimes, what seems like failure in the moment is really life making room for an even better opportunity that is coming to you. Realism and optimism can coexist — optimists take a minute to process the facts and learn the lessons, but they also genuinely believe that a better opportunity could be just around the corner, so they tend to persevere and very importantly, they stay mentally ready for that next opportunity.

Of course there are the obvious health benefits — the link between optimism and longevity is strong. Mental health too is improved too, as optimists are usually able to keep things in perspective and limit unnecessary catastrophizing. As a friend of mine used to say - “Don't worry until it's absolutely necessary!”

Cultivating and maintaining an optimistic attitude

Lastly, here's what helps me to remain optimistic, even in the face of what might seem like an insurmountable challenges or immovable obstacles:

“Vision” time. Call it alone time, dream time, creative time, nature time, hobby time, reading time, meditation if you're very fancy - there has to be some window when you can let yourself recharge. For busy people I get that it is hard to do, but even if it's just a couple minutes sitting quietly, looking at the sun coming up over the mountains, it's worth it to be able start the day with an optimistic attitude and with your vision about what you want to create in sharp focus.

Letting it go. Optimists can be realists too — when things happen, it's not that you don't see the negatives, you just don't fixate and hang on to them. Try to process whatever happened, take the lessons, and then consciously choose to let it go within as short a time frame as possible.

Monitoring my intake. StreamingCNNnews stories about Trump 24 hours a day, or following all the negative news onFacebookmay be draining your energy! It certainly doesn't work for me. I try to spend time in a creative, relaxing environment, read something inspirational or listen to energising music during the day. I try to put positive interactions into my day and to limit the negative ones. That helps me to maintain my optimism!

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