Optimism vs. Objective Awareness

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Curb Your Enthusiasm

There are times when it feels like everything is going our way. No matter what we do, success stacks atop success, filling us with joy, optimism, and hope. The euphoria spills over into every aspect of our lives and we know we’re on track to even better tomorrows.

Such moments feel rare and we want to clutch them tightly, relishing the happiness in them. Then, life starts to chip away at that optimism. Insignificant at first, but heralding more trials and tribulations. Next thing we know, that pristine moment is dragged far away as we contend with a growing number of challenges.

This is the way of all things. Emotions, like everything else, move in cycles. It’s a painful reminder of what goes up must come down. In this TED Talk, neuroscientist Tali Sharot explains our instinctive bias for optimism. Eighty percent of us drastically overestimate the odds of good experiences happening in our lives and underestimate the odds of bad experiences. Sharot states that this cognitive illusion seems innate within us all.

While the research overwhelmingly favors the good side of optimism, it can nonetheless become a destructive force when left unchecked against a profound sense of objective reality. Even the greatest ideas or opportunities can come to a screeching halt when unbridled emotions dictate decisions instead of logic and rationale.

However, there’s often a method within the madness. When optimism is paired with a healthy sense of reality checks, objective optimism can build stronger resilience for overcoming the pitfalls of emotional responses. Emotions themselves are not the enemy of good decisions. When examined carefully they provide insight into our gut responses and outline a potential way forward.

The glee of good can only be thwarted by the ballista of bad when we aren’t self-aware. This week, if feeling pulled in a particular direction, be sure to balance emotional assumptions with objective awareness. Discover even greater awareness of the factors behind our individual decision-making styles in the SurePeople Prism® Portrait.

“Expect the best, prepare for the worst.”
– Muhammad Ali Jinnah

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