Which are you: pessimist, optimist, or realist? I’m most naturally a pessimist and think of negatives first. Don’t we all have times when we want to hold onto the positives and avoid all the negatives in life? But is this realistic? I’m afraid not.
In working on myself and watching others navigate life, I have learned that life is made up of positives, negatives, and in betweens. As a result, I am becoming more of a realist. I’ve seen how developing a realist perspective can help us manage stress.
Stress is positive and negative…
Even stress is both positive and negative. Stress is the wear and tear we experience when adapting to change. All change requires us to assimilate new information, develop new routines, and incorporate new work.
The positives in life, like birthday parties and vacations, can elicit stress. It is something out of the regular routine and requires increase in your workload for a short time. And, of course, starting a new job or your child starting school, takes more sustained effort to adapt to the changes.
Let’s take a child starting school, and see what happens if you approach it with an unbalanced perspective. A pessimist may complain about all the papers to sign and calendar items to track. Or, the optimist may expect that they won’t always have to sign papers. While both of these perspectives are half true, what would happen if we were more balanced in our perspective of change?
Well, a realist may know it’s predictable to have more items to track when a family member starts a new activity, so she develops a system or delegates to another member. She realizes this may take time to develop, and doesn’t worry about perfecting it is the first week of school! (You got me, I recently moved from a pessimist to a realist perspective about my daughter starting school. 🙂
Benefits of a realist perspective…
While developing a realist perspective is only one way to manage stress, what are some of the benefits of balanced thinking?
Being less allergic to change
Doesn’t this sound nice? To just roll with the waves. Expect change but not expect change to do you in. As long as we are alive, we will encounter change. Life has both calm and choppy waters.
Managing stress better
When experiencing stress, a pessimist perspective will bring more worry, dread, and resentment. If you are a pessimist, you realize you need to think more positively. Being an optimist can be hard to maintain or maybe you just don’t completely buy what you are telling yourself. A more balanced, realist perspective will be easier to maintain through stressors over the journey of life.
Experiencing less relationship conflict
Couples can get especially stuck in positive or negative postures. For example, after a baby is born, the wife may see it as a joy and expect more family time, while the husband may see it as more work and want more alone time. Aren’t they both half-right? Caring for a baby is fun but it is also work. When the couple lessens their opposite postures, they can see that they both want time together and time alone.
Modeling life for our children
Speaking of kids, aren’t we trying to teach our kids to accept disappointment and rise above adversity? That in life, there are moments when are wishes come true, and then there are times when we don’t get what we want. Wouldn’t it be better for kids to know this in small doses as a child, then to be surprised that life isn’t all roses (or thorns).
It’s your turn. What helps you adjust your sails and ride the predictable waves of life? Share when having a realist perspective has helped you deal with change and cope with stress.
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Photo Credit: Today Is A Good Day