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Optimism: Why it matters

Recent studies indicate that, when challenged, “a good amount of Americans react angrily and sometimes express their disappointment dangerously.” We’re not so different from our southern neighbours, so this is undoubtedly true of many Canadians, too. This is an unfortunate trend because therapists agree that people do not like to constantly hear or be surrounded by pessimistic people, thus making optimism an inherently desirable characteristic that naturally draws us to those who express it.

Optimism is much more than an emotion. It is an outlook that leads to a greater quality of life. Optimism has many health-related benefits such as longer life span, greater coping skills and less likelihood of depression, more resistance to the common cold and reduced risk of heart disease. Adopting optimism is a process, but taking the time to do it is critical to your ability to develop personally and professionally.

Can you imagine a work environment permeated with optimism? Can you imagine the benefits and the greater collective success that could come with it? Here are some ideas to help make it a reality!

Recruit. Inspire. Reward.
In “Zorba the Greek” by Nikos Kazantzakis, Zorba reminds us that everything that can be enjoyed must be enjoyed-even, and perhaps especially, work. It’s no surprise that some of the most optimistic among us are those who are also successful. Find and foster optimistic individuals at your place of work for a more positive and productive work flow with these tips:

  • Begin by building an optimistic workforce. Utilize techniques to find the best and brightest candidates for the job by holding events like motivational talks to showcase the optimism your business manifests, and attract others to it! Hand out silicone bracelets with a motivational quote to attendants as a way to remember your message.
  • Demonstrate the link between optimism and a more satisfying professional and personal life by explaining the benefits, like a reduction in overall patient visits, improved customer care and greater patient retention, for example. Consider using a small optimism-inspiring figure with these items and your agency logo displayed on it.
  • One idea to encourage lasting optimism is to use positive imagery.  What is your ideal work experience? What are the ideal work experiences of your team members? Find out by distributing notebooks and encouraging them to keep an ongoing list of ways to inspire optimism at work. Just as you are what you eat, you are what you think. The more you think about it, the more you will work towards it, and the more likely it is to become reality for everyone!
  • Implement mentorship programs between senior and junior level staff members. This is a learning experience for both, but especially for the more junior person. It is an opportunity to work closely with a more established team member and will likely motivate them to adopt some of the success-related habits of the more senior staff member. Give them both a picture frame to remember the lessons learned together.
  • After some time, you’ll begin to notice a difference. Perhaps the office is that much more relaxed and enjoyable to work in, or perhaps there is an increase in revenues. Take a look around to identify those who are significantly contributing to positive change and recognize them for it! Place these individuals in leadership roles, recommend them to clients, and present them a certificate in a leather bound holder recognizing them for their achievements!

Studies abound proving that an optimistic outlook leads to less incidences of depression and distress, as well as greater subjective well-being and life satisfaction. Start to manifest optimism on purpose, help others do the same, and discover the health-related benefits together!

Lee, Dillon. “A Few Reasons Why Optimism Is So Important.” Authspot.com. Authspot, 11 Dec. 2009. Web. 03 May 2012.

McCann, Dick. “Optimism: It’s Role in the Workplace.” Team Management Systems. Web. 03 May 2012.

Staff, Mayo Clinic. “Positive Thinking: Reduce Stress by Eliminating Negative Self-talk.” Mayo Clinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 28 May 2011. Web. 03 May 2012.

Dawn, A. “Why Optimism Is Important?” A Simple Personal Development and Self Improvement Blog by Award-Winning Author A. Dawn. Simple Personal Development. Web. 03 May 2012.

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