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News > Commentary - Optimism the best path to success
Optimism the best path to success

Posted 4/6/2012   Updated 4/6/2012 Email story   Print story


Commentary by Geoff Gibson
Wing director of Psychological Health

4/6/2012 - FORT SMITH, Ark. -- We know that life isn't fair and bad things happen to good people. Be that as it may, a positive approach to the world will put you in a position where good outcomes are more likely. On the other hand, assuming the worst often guarantees the worst outcome. This principle is also known as the "self-fulfilling prophecy."

For example, if your partner or spouse doesn't seem excited to receive a call from you, there may be many possible meanings. Perhaps they are simply busy or stressed. Or, perhaps your spouse may not love you or want to be with you anymore. If you make it about you ("She doesn't want to be with me anymore"), then you're setting yourself up to be upset.

If on the other hand, you interpret the behavior as being about her or him ("She/he must really be tired after a full day with the kids"), you are less likely to be stressed. A negative approach may not reflect the truth of what your partner is really feeling, and sets you up for a fight, which will harm your relationship and leave you both feeling discouraged and unloved. A positive approach starts with positive, realistic thoughts, and leads to less anger and a greater chance that you will respond in a positive way to your partner.

Another example comes from the workplace: Your supervisor or coworkers seem short or impatient with you. You might assume that they are busy or stressed, or you might assume that they don't like you and are looking for ways to get you fired.

If you assume the worst ("They are looking for ways to get me fired"), your interaction with supervisors and coworkers takes on a negative tone; you may appear "touchy," and your motivation and work performance are likely to suffer.

If, however, you take a more positive and realistic approach ("We are all in this together, and I'm going to do work I am proud of"), your attitude and actions show that you are a positive, capable and successful person. Your attitude determines your altitude.

As you maintain an optimistic, positive approach, you feel better and act in a more productive and positive way. Negativity guarantees bad outcomes, so please notice and try to stop negative thoughts when they arise in your mind. Please contact me if negative thoughts are a problem for you or someone you care about, as I can help you find ways to stop negative thoughts and replace them with realistic, optimistic thoughts.

188th Fighter Wing Psychological Health Office
Cell: 479-431-9210
Office: 479-573-5742
E-mail: Geoff.Gibson.ctr@ang.af.mil

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