I like to participate regularly in few online forums and break-time discussions. In almost all of these forums and discussions I have noticed a common pattern – The best ideas are from people who are optimist. By optimist I mean people who have a good feeling about everything and start on a note of cheer and belief. Such people embrace optimism — inside themselves without any pretence. It is their deep-seated behaviour. It is a gift to understand how to project, share, and inspire with optimism. It is an even greater act of generosity to be inspired by optimism from others and to be willing to receive it.
The capacity to be a natural recipient of ideas and other peoples' optimism is what makes for the ultimate optimist. You may be open to experimenting with new things, but do you truly see the good in something before the bad? The order of this thought process is critical: to try and see everything good in an idea before seeing anything bad. I request that you read the previous line once again…
While most of us like to think we do, and would therefore self-describe ourselves as optimistic, more often (if we are truly honest with ourselves) we are natural critics (even cynics).Experience brings wisdom, but its collateral damage is that it can jade one against new concepts, turning many of us into cynics. Whether we openly say it or not, we often think of what might be wrong with someone or something before we try to understand what might be right or good. The temptation and reflex for cynicism is usually more common than a natural responsive optimism.
Ok… those of you who agree that they tend to see the bad before the good may continue reading for overcoming the inbuilt cynicism within us. Those of us who think this article is yet another harp piece may continue reading with rapt attention and with a little dose of borrowed optimism!
1. Wait before you speak
The next time you hear an idea for the first time, or meet someone new, try to wait 30 seconds before saying or thinking something negative. This reinforces a foundational skill of good optimists and good leadership. That basic skill is listening.
2. Think while you wait
As you gain the ability to listen and pause for a brief 30 seconds before letting the critic in you bubble to the verbal surface, move to the next level and try to do it for 30 minutes. At 30 minutes, you are able to give more considered thought to the idea and think more carefully of the many reasons why it might actually work, why it might be better than what is out there, and why it might just topple conventional wisdom.
3. Discover while you think
And yes, you should also work towards the ability to wait one full day before pondering or verbalizing the cons against something. During this period analyze the idea carefully. Typically most cynics are against an idea because of their lack of knowledge on that subject. Pondering leads to discovery through research, reference and contemplation; this adds to our knowledge on the subject and may change our thought process towards optimism.
Of course, most times this will not be possible. Our minds cannot compartmentalize so easily, nor shut off our past experiences. But the WAIT-THINK-DISCOVER rule is a type of reflective meditation for developing a more optimistic approach towards people and ideas. The simple guideline of WAIT-THINK-DISCOVER is just a good reminder that a prerequisite of optimism is to have a willing suspension of disbelief.
This is not saying in any way not to be a critic — it is absolutely essential in life to be a critic — but be a healthy critic.
In increasing your generosity to receive optimism, you will be rewarded with new possibilities that others have prematurely dismissed.
I know that I am missed a few good opportunities because of my cynicism arising out of lack on knowledge on the subject… however I aim to become one of such an optimist and be a natural recipient of ideas and other people.