For the 8th Joy Superpowers episode, we were joined by three lovely guests – Victor Perton, Nóirín Mosley and Jenny Boymal to discuss the superpower of optimism. Victor is the Chief Optimism Officer of The Centre of Optimism, thus his work centers on asking people what makes them optimistic. Before, he has worked in Parliament for 18 years and has been Commissioner to the Americas working on Foreign Direct Investment and Export Promotion, followed by service as Senior Advisor to the G20 Presidency.
Nóirín is a director of an online learning business, Educate to Elevate, as well as the non-profit Project Optimism. She has a background of product marketing and running a slot car racing venue, among other things. Spreading optimism has become a passion of Nóirín’s.
Jenny is also a director for Educate to Elevate and Project Optimism. Her career background is in the education sector, and she also works as a marketing strategist in addition to spreading optimism near and far with Project Optimism.
Here are some helpful insights from the episode summarized! The whole episode can be listened to here.
The link between optimism and realism
According to Victor, optimism and realism go hand in hand. He says that the weakness of positive thinking is that you can’t accept that there is grief – and this is where optimism differs from just thinking positive thoughts. Victor explains that the strength of optimism is understanding that tough things happen, and you can’t always do anything about it. However, it is optimism that gives you the persistence and the resilience to deal with these things.
“If you are resilient, if you persist, if you are going to work your way through disaster or tragedy, you’ve got to believe there’s a better future. And you can’t be resilient unless you’re optimistic”, Victor says.
How to start being an optimist?
Jenny emphasizes that optimism can be learnt, and it is a choice. She shares a few tips to get you started:
- Ask yourself the question: what makes me optimistic? When you ask yourself or others this question, there’s no other place it can take you, other than a positive place.
- Consider the language you use and how you interact with people. Instead of asking someone “how are you today?”, try asking them “what’s the best thing that’s happened to you today?” Smile at people, and find opportunities to laugh.
- Surround yourself with optimists and people who motivate you, and help you feel like things are going to work out for you.
- Choose an optimism habit (or a few) which resonates with you, and just start doing that on a regular basis – don’t be hard on yourself for not being perfect.
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Optimism and media
Nóirín answers the question on how to remain optimistic in a world where the media is bombarding us with negativity and bad news on a daily basis.
- Inform and educate yourself – question and challenge what you’re hearing in the news or on social media. Are bad things really happening to the extent that we think they are, or are we just constantly hearing about it, and things aren’t actually that bad?
- Regulate your media intake. It’s easy to control the media you’re consuming – just turn off the radio, or don’t start your day by reading the news. It’s also important to remember that good news are out there – you just have to go looking for them.
- Be your own news channel and share the good stuff – share your stories of hope and optimism, or good news you come across.
Favorite tips for developing optimism
“I think the word optimism is challenging for a lot of people, because they think of the rainbows and lollipops.”
Nóirín and Jenny offer a great tip for developing your optimism, and it’s about choosing what kind of optimist you are, and roll with that. Optimism is for all of us, but it might not look the same for everyone. There are many different types of optimists, and you may not find all of them relatable. The important thing is to find the level of optimism that resonates with you, and that you can identify with. Victor’s favorite tip for developing optimism is to smile at people – he says it builds community, and it builds friendships.
What’s your relationship with optimism? Did you find these tips helpful in developing your optimism? Comment down below, or start a conversation with us on social media using the hashtag #joysuperpowers. For a lot more talk on the topic, make sure to listen to the whole episode here, or on your preferred podcast platform by searching The Art and Science of Joy.