Optimism Is The Art of The Possible
How to live healthier, longer and better lives in these pandemic times? We all want to know the answer to this question, not just the experts alone.
Given the new normal that we live with nowadays, AIA commissioned a unique study across the Asia-Pacific region in Dec 2020, to find out how people make a positive difference to their own lives.
The AIA study reached out to over 6,000 people across Australia, China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand. Participants were asked to rate their own lives against eight positive attitudes for a life that is healthier, longer and better. Only 15% of those surveyed believed they were adopting these key ingredients — the large majority of 85% felt they were not doing it.
Collaborating with some 80 experts from leading institutions, businesses and governments across the region, the AIA study had established these eight key ingredients as:
- Understand yourself and your emotions
- Feel a sense of independence
- Make time to recharge
- Maintain quality relationships
- Be active and engaged
- Never stop learning or exploring
- Have an optimistic outlook
If you already adopt at least seven of the above eight ingredients, it is likely that COVID-19 has had less of a negative impact on you. Indeed, the AIA survey showed that in this group, an overwhelming 97% felt maintaining an optimistic outlook on life gave the biggest positive impact. In fact, optimism was 2.3 times more prevalent among them than for those who saw COVID-19 for only its negative effects.
Why does optimism shine through like a beacon of light to guide people through dark, uncertain times?
“Optimism is considered to be the general attitude that fuels resilience,” notes Rasmus Hougaard, founder of Potential Project, a global research and leadership development firm.
Many of us already know the optimism-pessimism analogy with the answer to the question, “How full is the glass?”
You can view it as “half-full” or “half-empty” – therein lies your perspective of being optimistic or pessimistic.
Sounds easy? Well, just think again about your own work or personal experiences and recall how hard it was for you to feel good or happy when the going was tough!
Many people are not aware that optimism is an active goal-oriented process.
To know this, you have to first understand the important difference between “blind optimism” and “realistic optimism”. The former is known as naive optimism while the latter is what we call wise optimism.
We call it “wise” optimism because it is grounded in reality, meaning that it improves one’s chances of dealing with setbacks and failures. Unlike blind or naïve optimism, wise optimism is active, not passive. The person using wise optimism does not miss the negatives. Instead, he or she disengages from problems that appear unsolvable – then attends to those problems that can be solved.
Wise optimism allows you to look at a glass, and acknowledge that while it’s half empty, it’s also half full. It encourages you to put your focus on the fullness of the glass, to see the good along with the bad, and to always be on the lookout for the silver lining in a dark cloud.
Optimism should develop through a crisis. If we are not focused on maintaining our sense of optimism amidst chaos, we risk descending into a state of apathy, even pessimism. This is detrimental to our own individual health, and can even spell disaster within a workplace.
That’s why in times of national crisis, great leaders always do their utmost to lead their people by keeping an optimistic outlook.
There is always a fine balance to strike – unrealistic views will only lead to failures, while taking charge with a wise optimism mindset can lead to excellent performance — and a suitable way out of a crisis.
Manageable stress is actually necessary to create a healthy tension between ‘what is’ and ‘what could be.’ This can provide the impetus for individual development and business growth.
“During long periods of crisis, we must be more alert,’’ observes Rasmus. “We must be ready to change direction and strategy as the world unfolds.”
You can train your mind to have an optimistic outlook even when stress appears all around. It is a new habit to be developed, and it can actually bring your mind back to a positive and productive state. You do this by accepting stress as an inevitable part of work, and that optimism is the art of the possible.
Conducted by Potential Project, this program consists of three 45-minute training sessions held fortnightly and thrice weekly mind-gym sessions to support you in the journey.