?Be an “optimalist” and make the best of everything that happens.
Most people would define optimism as being eternally hopeful, endlessly happy with a glass that’s permanently half full, which is the kind of deluded cheerfulness that can only be condoned or even admired during the current economic situation. Healthy optimism is being in touch with reality and there is no more an important time to be in touch with reality than in a recession.
So during these uncertain times one could do a lot worse than learning from the philosophy of Tal Ben-Shahar - author of ‘The Pursuit of Perfect’ - and his three “optimalist” exercises known as PRP. “Optimalist” is the name he gives to “those that make the best of everything that happens”. Firstly, if you disappoint yourself - Ben-Shahar uses the example of giving a poor lecture but the philosophy applies across a wide spectrum of business disciplines from new business pitches to acquiring a capital loan– give yourself Permission to be human. Be disappointed but don’t birch yourself.
Next is Reconstruction. Learn lessons from your disappointment for the future about what works and what doesn’t.
Finally Perspective. In the grand scheme of things one disappointment really doesn’t matter and should be used to better equip yourself for the future. It is important, especially in a recession, to strengthen your strengths, not simply to improve your weaknesses. As the psychologist Martin Seligman says “It’s not enough to clear away the weeds and undergrowth if you want roses. You have to plant a rose.”
The thing about being optimistic, however, is that it takes hard work. Indeed most optimists and many of the world’s leading entrepreneurs consider themselves born as pessimists. But if they have learnt over time and with practice to become more optimistic, take heart – so can you.