Wednesday, August 31, 2005


dynamic optimism

i love when ideas come into our lives just as we become ready to receive them. the concept of dynamic optimism showed up for me in just this way. i learned about this concept from a recent post on curt rosengren's ever-inspiring blog the occupational adventure.

i have always considered myself an optimist, in fact i think almost everyone i know would hands down say that i qualify as one. being an optimist has at times been a lonely pursuit. many today feel that realism is the correct approach to the world and accuse optimists of being naive and misguided.

moreover, i think many people who have big dreams for our world and are working to make it a better place have fallen into a pattern of being "opposed to" things rather than "in support of" them leaving them sounding more often like pessimists than optimists as they go about trying to creative positive social change. a strange place to end up.

dynamic optimism is a brilliant way of defining what i have always considered optimism to be:

An active, empowering, constructive attitude that creates conditions for success by focusing and acting on possibilities and opportunities.
as max more goes on to discuss in his article on the subject, optimism is not simply about approaching life positively - it's about influencing things to move in a positive direction. as he states:

The dynamic optimist both interprets experience positively, and influences outcomes positively. Merely believing that everything will work out fine without taking action makes one a foolish optimist, not a dynamic optimist.

more outlines twelve steps involved in being a dynamic optimist. i think they speak for themselves and are a great set of ideas to consider as we think about our outlook on the world:

1) Selective Focus: Emphasizing the enjoyable, constructive, open aspects of life.

2) Refraining from Complaining: Avoiding pointless complaining and whining about one’s difficulties. Taking the world as it is and not complaining that life isn’t fair.

3) Questioning Limits: A constructive skepticism that challenges the limiting beliefs held by ourselves, our associates, and our society. A fundamental creative openness to possibilities.

4) Sense of Abundance: Feeling free to do what you want, rather than feeling compelled by circumstances or people. Recognizing the world to be full of opportunities. Being for things, not against things.

5) Humor: Seeing one’s own shortcomings with a sense of humor. Allowing healthy, good-natured humor to reveal new perspectives and combat dogmatic thinking.

6) Rational: Using reason rather than being lead by fears and desires. Objectively assessing situations and taking action based on understanding reality apart from our wishes.

7) Self-Improving: Optimists see the self as a process and seek continual improvement. Their drive to improve is not pushed by fear but pulled by a inspiring self-image.

8) Experimental: Frequently trying fresh approaches, staying out of ruts, actively seeking more effective ways of achieving goals, and being willing to take calculated risks.

9) Self-Confident: Believing that we can bring about good things. A fundamental conviction of competence in living.

10) Self-Worth: Believing one is worthy of success and happiness. Without this, attempts to improve one’s life will lack motivation.

11) Personal Responsibility: Taking charge and creating the conditions for success. Being aware of how we determine our chances of success. This crucially involves integrity: living according to one’s values.

12) Selecting Environment: Being attracted to positive people and situations. Seeking out those who will support and inspire, not discourage, distract, and undermine.

do you consider yourself an optimist?

how could acting on the principles of dynamic optimism affect your life?

as always share your thoughts, i'd love to hear!

dream big,

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