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The Power and Force of Optimism

Posted: January 26, 2011, 8:20 p.m., EDT

As I get older and wiser, I am convinced that our thoughts and attitudes play a huge part in determining both our financial success and personal happiness. Given that January is a time of resolutions and new beginnings; I wanted to share a wonderful article about optimism written by one of America’s foremost experts on small business, Ali Brown.

"The power and force of optimism can never be underestimated. In fact, your personal development and growth over your lifetime depends upon it. When you are able to see the positive in every situation, you are better equipped to recognize and take advantage of opportunities that come your way. In other words, you are more able to spring into positive action in the face of life’s challenges.
"Perhaps the most significant aspect of optimism is its power to transform the negative thoughts in our heads. Negative self-talk completely limits our ability to think creatively and get ourselves out of sticky situations. When we push forward in the face of negative self-talk, we are practicing optimism. The very fuel of success is our optimistic belief that we can impact situations and play a role in the outcome of our lives. When things begin to look dark and your mind is concocting every possible negative outcome, look for the rainbow of optimism that is always available in your mind.
"One very significant study shed light on the power of optimism to nourish healthy relationships, physical vitality, and longevity. In the famous book by Dr. George E. Vaillant called The Wisdom of the Ego, the Harvard medical professor talks about individuals who have "both the capacity to be bent without breaking and the capacity, once bent, to spring back." Vaillant talks about our greatest source of resilience coming from our internal capacity for optimism.
"In Dr. Vaillant's next book, Aging Well: Surprising Guideposts to a Happier Life, he takes it even a step further. The doctor conducts three studies with 800 people of all different backgrounds and genders who were researched for 50 years of their lives. The study followed them from adolescence through old age, and it was discovered that the most important factor involved in healthy aging was each one's ability to "make lemonade out of life's lemons." That is the very simplest definition of optimism.
"Research is still coming in proving that optimism is a huge factor in increasing longevity. The last study done at Wageningen University in the Netherlands followed 999 old Dutch men and women. The predicting factor of their longevity was their agreement with the statement--"I still have goals to strive for." When subjects were tested 9 years after their survey, the death rates of the optimistic men were 63 percent lower than those who had not agreed with the optimistic statement 9 years earlier. Women were 35 percent lower. What makes the difference between optimistic and pessimistic people in terms of longevity? It's generally believed that the optimists avoided unhealthy life choices that pessimists might have gone for.
"The power of optimism is the power to successfully navigate and overcome life's greatest challenges. Optimism can be learned. You need not be a born optimist to experience the benefits of optimism. In reality, optimism is a choice that we can all make. We all have the power to observe our negative thoughts and compulsive actions. When we are finally able to clearly see what we are doing and understand what we are thinking, we then have the power to choose optimism.


Ali Brown is a self-made entrepreneur and Inc. 500-ranked CEO Ali Brown teaches women around the world how to start and grow profitable businesses that make a positive impact. Get her FREE weekly articles and advice at


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