Optimism is a key to resilience and taking care of wellbeing.

Optimism is a perspective on life which is grounded in confidence that, when the chips are down, the world is a positive place and living in it is a positive experience. This confidence inspires and rewards positive life experiences, which reinforce further confidence, and the loop continues to loop.

Confidence is grounded in a sense of positive self-efficacy, which means the sense of being able to get stuff done. Positive self-efficacy locates power in the person – in you – not some nameless or named Other, something or someone ‘out there’ – the government, the boss at work, family members, whoever. People with positive self-efficacy take responsibility for both triumphs and defeats; they don’t seek to blame something or someone else if things go wrong, and if they have a win, they ‘own’ that win and they celebrate! To use a phrase, they make their own luck.

The good news is that positive self-efficacy can be trained, and optimism can be learned.

Here are three key strategies on building optimism

  1. Train yourself to get stuff done by setting reasonable goals, planning to achieve them, sticking to the plan, then rewarding yourself for their achievement (the reward part is very important!) Sometimes the goals turn out to be unreasonable and need to be rethought or engineered a bit so that they become achievable.
  2. Find a role model, and ask yourself, just at the back of your mind, ‘what would (x) do in this situation?’
  3. Surround yourself by yea-sayers, by people who will understand and support and encourage you – or put another way, rid yourself of nay-sayers.

The more you do these things, regularly and consistently, the better at them you become. The better at them you become, the more you do them – another positive feedback loop.

The stronger your sense of positive self-efficacy, the greater your confidence. The greater your confidence, the stronger your experience that the world is a positive place, a place with a future, and the greater your degree of optimism.

This set of feedback loops powerfully equips you to deal with the setbacks, disappointments, rip-offs and failures that are unavoidable in life. Not to mention pandemics. They condition you for resilience.

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