There is no question that seeking to be positive and optimistic are valuable allies in recovering from illness and keeping depression away. A positive viewpoint keeps your mind looking for solutions to challenges at home and work. Believing that an answer is “out there” and just hasn’t been found yet, multiplies the chances that the answer will be found. But is it possible to be too positive?
Positive thinking is definitely a good thing, but when it comes to being positive, can you overdo it? Can you have too much of this particular good thing? Of course, you can. In fact, you can probably identify plenty of people whose reckless optimism got them into trouble.
These are the folks who borrow too heavily, fail to anticipate possible problems, and never take off their rose-colored glasses, even for a moment, to check on current reality. It’s all about the dream, and not enough about the real-world challenges that come with making the dream come true.
Tough-minded optimists, on the other hand, have learned to anticipate problems. They believe in doing all they can to make a bad situation better, but even more importantly, they believe in planning ahead to avoid bad situations whenever possible. It’s another facet of the option thinking we have been talking about.
When you are planning for the future – whether it’s making an investment, interviewing a job applicant, or working out a color scheme for your new apartment – think about worst-case scenarios. Ask yourself some discriminating questions like, “What potential problems exist here? How might this be improved? Is there some way this could backfire? Will this look as good to me after some time has passed as it does right now?” And if we do see possible problems, how will we solve them?
As long as we do not dwell on worst-case scenarios, this is not negative thinking or cynicism, and certainly not borrowing trouble. This is the kind of enlightened self-reflection that heads off problems before they develop.