If you asked which human quality is the most important in the pursuit of success, most people would give answers such as intelligence, experience, talent or inherent ability but did you know that more and more scientific research is emerging to support the fact that optimism plays a larger role than any of the above?
Henry Ford, the founder of the Ford Motor Company once said, “If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.”
The power of thought has previously been demonstrated to affect humans on a biological level as demonstrated in the placebo effect, wherein subjects given sugar pills experienced as much of a reduction in pain or other medical symptoms as the people that were actually given real medicine.
Recent studies are also revealing that contrary to popular belief, success is a result of happiness, and not the other way round.
First you must be happy, and then you will succeed. Sounds a little backward, doesn’t it?
Let’s examine the reasons why having an optimistic attitude and the ability to reframe negative experiences and challenges into positive ones could help you achieve success faster than any other skills.
1. You won’t quit before you succeed
Most of us will start working on a goal with high levels of excitement and motivation, fueled by our expectations of a positive outcome but what happens when things don’t go as planned?
If you’re a glass half full person, you are more likely to focus on how much progress you’ve already made or how much joy you’ll feel when you finally succeed, and keep pushing forward.
Glass half empty people are however more likely to consider the time and effort already spent as a waste, or even decide that they are not good enough to bring the task at hand to completion.
2. You’ll have less stress and anxiety
Stress and anxiety have unfortunately become a common problem among adults and even children, as a reaction to the highly competitive world we live in.
We all have our share of doubts, fears, and a host of other negative emotions, but how you choose to deal with them is the real determinant of how long they’ll stay and how badly they’ll affect you.
A 2016 study published in the Journal of Behavior Research and Therapy found that out of 102 test subjects diagnosed with anxiety disorder, the ones who were most effectively able to manage this condition were the ones who had been instructed to think of a positive outcome to their worries or a positive, unrelated image to replace whatever was bothering them in the moment.
3. You’ll have more motivation to work with
We all know how much work we can accomplish with a little motivation, and the most successful of us are the ones who are able to tap into this resource as often as we need.
Positive thoughts about an exciting outcome are much more likely to give you that extra push when you need it to persevere through a never ending workload than negative thoughts like dread which will only lead to procrastination or worse.
4. You’ll get more breakthroughs and new ideas
You know how when you give in to your fears you can come up with the most outrageous scenarios of failure? Imagine channeling all that creative energy towards your goals. Imagine spending your time thinking about how to solve a problem close to your heart, instead of putting yourself down or rehashing all the ways in which you could fail and be embarrassed!
It’s been said that the mind magnifies whatever you feed it, so it’s ultimately up to you to choose positive or constructive thoughts over negative ones, and allow them to lead you to the answers that you seek.
5. You’ll live longer
A long running study from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that “the most optimistic women had a 16 percent lower risk of dying from cancer; 38 percent lower risk of dying from heart disease; 39 percent lower risk of dying from stroke; 38 percent lower risk of dying from respiratory disease; and 52 percent lower risk of dying from infection.”
When you truly believe in yourself, you won’t feel the need to be modest about your dreams anymore, because you’ll know that everything is within your reach.
Journal of Behavior Research and Therapy https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0005796715300814
American Psychological Association http://www.apa.org/pubs/journals/releases/bul-1316803.pdf
Harvard Health Publishing https://www.health.harvard.edu/mental-health/the-power-of-the-placebo-effect