In Australia, a standard greeting is "G'Day, how are you?"
In Australia, the usual responses are "not bad" or "not too bad".
Hardly a response designed to lift you up, go out and do great things at work or school.
My challenge to you, it to try a new greeting.
Try something like "G'day. What's been the best thing in your day?"
I guarantee that most conversations will start with a positive story!
You may need to repeat the question; it is so unusual.
Change it to suit the circumstances, "What's been the best thing in your week?" on a Friday.
It will make you more optimistic and make the other person feel better too.
Why bother to be optimistic?
If optimistic, you will feel healthier.
An optimistic spirit can bring significant benefits, including happiness, joy, active longevity, better health, lower risks of cardiovascular disease, better sleep, greater resilience, stronger relationships and increased self-mastery.
A recent OECD Study on Social and Emotional Skills in schools found, "Emotional stability skills are found to be the most predictive of mental health. Optimism has the highest relation to life satisfaction".
Optimism may help you live longer.
Research by leading global universities has established a strong link between optimism and longevity. As Dr Carol Graham of the Brookings Institution said: "The link between optimism and longevity is strong".
It is believed that optimistic people are better able to balance their emotions more effectively and that they more easily bounce back from some of the many stresses that life offers.
Optimism is strongly linked to a lower risk of cardiovascular events. A study by the American College of Cardiology attributes this in part to the fact that "Optimists persevere by using problem-solving and planning strategies to manage stressors".
Optimism helps you function better as a leader.
People who are the most optimistic tend to be better sleepers. The University of Illinois Professor Rosalba Hernandez said: "Optimists are more likely to engage in active problem-focused coping and to interpret stressful events in more positive ways, reducing worry and ruminative thoughts when they're falling asleep and throughout their sleep cycle...Dispositional optimism - the belief that positive things will occur in the future- has emerged as a psychological asset of particular salience for disease-free survival and superior health".
Optimism helps you function better as a leader. In my work with the Australian Leadership Project, it's clear that optimistic leaders have a clear advantage in the Australian culture and beyond.
I recently had the opportunity to interview the global leader of positive psychology, Professor Martin Seligman, on what makes him optimistic. On this point, Martin says: "The defining characteristic of pessimists is that they tend to believe bad events will last a long time, will undermine everything they do and are their fault. The optimists, who are confronted with the same hard knocks of this world, think about misfortune in the opposite way. They tend to believe defeat is just a temporary setback, that its causes are confined to this one case. The optimists believe defeat is not their fault: Circumstances, bad luck, or other people brought it about. Such people are unfazed by defeat. Confronted by a bad situation, they perceive it as a challenge and try harder".
Optimism is the underpinning trait, the fuel for innovation, entrepreneurship, creativity and resilience.
The former head of the Australian Prime Minister's Department, Martin Parkinson, told me: "Optimism drives curiosity which in turn fosters innovation and invention. So whatever the challenges we face, it's better to tackle them with an optimistic bent, confident that nothing is insurmountable given enough will and effort".
This all sounds very good but how do you do it? For most people, optimism doesn't come naturally; it's a choice you make daily.
Science says you can train your brain to be more optimistic.
Some things are pretty simple:
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