Mindfulness Meditation to Overcome Pessimistic Outlook and Attitudes
Posted on August 14th, 2017

Dr. Daya Hewapathirane

A pessimistic outlook is associated with the tendency to see, anticipate, or emphasize only bad and undesirable outcomes, results, and conditions. Pessimists in general, are cynics, skeptics, doubters, doomsters, nihilists, defeatists, and cowards who look ahead and often see a bleak future. They suffer from anxiety, fear, and often worry even over trivial matters. Pessimism instills and promotes stress, anxiety, worry, fear and nervousness and puts people at risk for various health ailments, including chronic mental illnesses like depression. This has been confirmed by scientific research. Optimism, on the other hand, promotes a happier and longer life. Studies have shown that optimism protects heart-health. A sense of well-being which is clearly connected with optimism, gives many other health benefits. Such individuals are generally engaged in healthier behaviors.

Self-confidence is a determining factor for optimism and pessimism. Optimists are confident in themselves. They believe they can overcome whatever life throws at them and continue their way. Pessimists do not believe this, and therefore become victims” of circumstances. Lacking confidence, pessimists do not believe they can do it. Optimists see possibility whereas pessimists see problems. Pessimists often feel no sense of control over their lives. Quite often, pessimists base their gloomy expectations on prior experiences.

Optimistic people in general are happy people. To thrive, we need to experience more positive emotions rather than negative emotions. For those who are optimistic, positive emotions and attitudes come naturally. They are more resilient and flexible and even when they are going through a tough time, they tend to experience positive emotions side by side with negative emotions.   Even during a crisis, they often tend to think that they have the support of their friends and family, which helps them to cope with challenging situations. Some optimistic people have the habit of reverting to positive emotions even during turmoil and trouble. Optimistic people can focus on the positive fallout from a negative event and thereby protect themselves from physical stress and anxiety. Compared with glum pessimistic people, those who are happy are more likely to be surrounded by those who are happy. They often tend to influence the outlook of their friends and family.

Realistic optimists are those who make the best of things happen in their lives.

Optimists believe they are in control and can shape their future. They see no reason tomorrow cannot be better than today. Circumstances and prior failures do not matter as much to an optimist. An optimist’s worldview is such that positive changes and improvements are expected. Optimists are forward-looking. Yesterday is filed away as a joyful or educational experience in the mind of an optimist. There is no day like the present, and hey, tomorrow is looking good too. For the optimist, the present moment is completely neutral and provides the opportunity to make something good happen.

Mindfulness Meditation and Pessimism

Mindfulness Meditation is the answer for those with pessimistic outlook and attitudes. Although we have deeply ingrained ways of thinking we have the possibility of changing or of self transformation. The most important characteristic of, or power of, the human mind, is that it can be transformed. By regular meditative practices one can actively change one’s mind-set, one’s feelings and one’s attitudes. It opens the door to a life of greater balance, joy, and patience. It is a way of learning to relate directly to whatever is happening in your life. It is a way of taking charge of your life and consciously and systematically working with your own stress, pain, illness, challenges and demands of everyday life.

People, generally, are not born with either an Optimistic or Pessimistic view of the world. It is learned behavior – learned either through experience or through other people telling us who we are. The great news is that because this behavior is Learned, it can be Unlearned. In his book, Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life, Dr. Martin Seligman known as the father of the new science of positive psychology, with more than twenty years of clinical research demonstrates how optimism enhances the quality of life, and how anyone can learn to practice it. He shows that people can dramatically impact their sense of wellbeing and optimism and confidence levels by changing the way they think. He shares many tips on how you can train yourself to develop a more optimistic vs pessimistic outlook.

In the practice of mindfulness meditation, the mind is trained to remain focused on the present moment and to accept one’s thoughts and responses without judgment. All inner interpretations of feelings and thoughts are disregarded or overlooked. It is a mental mode of being engaged in the present moment without evaluating or emotionally reacting to it. Mindfulness involves the detached observation of what is happening within us and around us in the present moment. Being fully mindful means being fully attentive to everything as-it-is, not reacting to or generating thoughts on what one experiences now. Regular mindfulness training helps to enhance and strengthen the brains ability to pay attention. It helps to increase one’s attention span, memory power, clear and focused thinking. As with any skill, regular practice enhances the skill so that it arises naturally and spontaneously. With regular mindfulness meditation, one is better able to handle one’s thoughts and emotions. In our hectic modern world, one of the greatest benefits of regular meditation practice is that it helps to build our resilience to stress. Mindfulness meditation has been proven to be exceptionally powerful in helping us cultivate a new relationship to stress and opening the door to a life of greater balance, ease, and joy.

Dr. Daya Hewapathirane

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