On my latest trip back to Spain, I had plenty of time to reflect while waiting on standby for my flight. I used to be a devout optimist, almost always assuming the best and never generating circles of thoughts on all the bad things that might happen. When I had to leave Spain after living there ten years, pessimism was one of the things that seemed to come my way. More and more, I have been learning to be more of an optimist and think the best outcome is more likely.
On this trip, a friend had checked how full the airplane was and how many people were on the standby list. He provided an evaluation of my chances of getting on as 50-50, what I think was a realistic evaluation. When I checked in and checked my bag, the woman was very friendly and said she was sure I would get on. She was an optimist. At the gate, I heard the employee there tell several people who approached the counter, “no, this flight is completely full.” I became the pessimist and worried I wouldn’t make the flight.
But it really served no value. My schedule was flexible and I could just as easily come back the next day and try again. And I did get on the flight, completely full, I think the next to last one to get on. All the worry was wasted. But on reflection I realized all the worry is actually wasted regardless of the outcome. In this case, I made the flight and the worry did not good. Even if I didn’t make the flight, the worry still does no good and I would have had to alter my plans to fit.
So I realize that the way I felt when the check in lady told me she was sure I would make the flight is the way I should determine to feel regardless. The time spent thinking positive thoughts passes so much more pleasantly. All you gain from the pessimistic thoughts are negative feelings that don’t help at all. I see three things that are important to stay positive:
(1) Keep the proper perspective. Don’t make a mountain out of a molehill. What is the worst that could happen? If it does, you will make the appropriate adjustments, when they are needed – not running them through your head over and over before hand.
(2) Smile. I noticed that the reaction to me by the lady at the ticket counter was flavored by approaching the counter with a big smile, and a friendly greeting to her. She returned the big smile and friendly greeting, and then proceeded to give me the optimist’s version of my chances of making the flight.
(3) Don’t just keep the big picture in mind, think positively. You will feel better and more relaxed, and actually be better prepared to adjust as necessary if things don’t work out exactly as you hoped.
While in Spain I hope to get back on a more regular schedule and publish an article here every Saturday or Sunday, so stay tuned. What negative thoughts have you been dwelling on lately? Why not try applying the above three steps to your situation?