It all started when I watched the movie, “The Secret”.
It has been almost 10 years now since I saw that movie, after being introduced to me by one of my friends. I got hooked with the “law of attraction”, and I hoped that it would give me the comfortable life I wanted. Just by staying positive, I felt like I could be in full control of everything that will happen in my life, and that the people I come across with would be favorable to me. However, it seemed like the exact opposite happened. During that time, I felt depressed and I was constantly haunted by huge bouts of anxiety. I couldn’t understand why unlikely things were happening but I still continued on, applying the lessons I learned in that movie and hoping that everything would work out someday.
Several years passed, and I eventually saw that my efforts were paying off. Initially, I strongly believed that an optimistic perspective alone was helping me to be happy with life. Until I realized that being realistic also helps. I learned that it’s possible to be realistic and optimistic at the same time. And truth be told, I became even happier because of this.
I will share with you today the seven lessons I learned when I shifted from being just an optimist to a realistic optimist.
- I learned that aside from having a main plan, I should have plans B and C ready, just in case plan A doesn’t turn out as expected. I used to get frustrated a lot, because I only stick to one course of action. But when I learned to accept that failures were inevitable because there will always be uncontrollable factors (e.g. accidents or unexpected events), I let go of my belief that optimism alone is enough to make a plan happen.
- I work hard to achieve my goals. Positive thinking is not enough for me to attain what I want. I also need to correct my mistakes, continuously improve myself, and be responsible.
- I learned how to accept my mistakes. When I was still an unrealistic optimist, I always looked for loopholes in a situation and the people involved in it just so I could say that I was right even if in reality, I was the one who was wrong. I realized that it was not going to be my loss if I accepted the fact that I have weaknesses just like everybody else, and this became an opportunity for me to work even harder at making myself better.
- I learned how to be compassionate to others, even to those who are negative, without compromising my positive disposition. Just because you’re an optimist doesn’t mean that you should avoid people who are full of drama and negative thoughts. In reality, you need to learn how to properly deal with them because you could be spending most of your time with these people, especially if they’re your workmates, family, or members of your different social circles.As a realistic optimist, I learned that I don’t need to change for other people and force them to be like myself. Instead of letting them influence my outlook, I would just work on uplifting them. I would offer a listening ear and would empathize with them without being judgmental.
- It’s normal to be angry, sad, and negative. We’re humans after all, and this fact is what makes life beautiful—our ability to feel and think. If we get hurt, it’s normal to cry or think about even the most unlikely things for hours, days, weeks, or even months… as long as it would not be self-destructive. We can’t force ourselves to be happy if we’re going through trials. But always remember that there’s such a thing as “moving on”, and it’s something you should try when you experience problems and challenges. Believe me, it works.
- I learned that you don’t need to completely forget bad and hurtful memories or experiences. For our present to be peaceful, it should be reconciled with our past. Forgive yourself for things you’ve done wrong and release forgiveness to the people who hurt you. At the same time, make peace with those who you think you’ve wronged.
- More than anything else, I learned to be always ready for every possible thing that may happen. This doesn’t mean that we should constantly worry about our future or that we have to be panicky. We simply need to keep in mind that planning and preparation is important if we want to be successful in life. A plan doesn’t have to be complex because it’s not as if you’re going to present it for the world to see. Making a simple to-do list every day is actually enough to help you stay focused and driven.