Are you someone who thinks positively all the time? How powerful is positive thinking? Are you pessimistic? Maybe you are trying to cultivate a positive view of the world. After all, we heard so many good things about positive thinking. However, according to new research, the best thing is to have a realistic view of the world and realistic expectations. It seems that positive thinking will not bring a positive outcome. It’s important to have a full and realistic picture of your environment, people around you, possibilities, and expectations. Many gurus around the world believe that to have positive outcomes, you have to believe that a positive outcome is possible. However, when can we believe that a positive outcome is possible? If you are someone who wants to participate in the Olympics as a gymnast at the age of 25 while you never seriously practiced, is your wish realistic?
How Powerful is Positive Thinking?
In a longitudinal study by the University of Bath and London School of Economics and Political Science, a group of researchers discovered that realists felt a better sense of well-being in the long run than optimists.
Expectations matter. Some people are pessimistic and they don’t even try hard enough. Or at all because they expect a negative outcome no matter what they do. Others are always optimistic and expect the best. And they might even think no action is needed. Some are just realistic, they see the facts and set their expectations based on those facts.
In the study, for the past 18 years, researchers checked on the 1,600 participants in the UK every year, trying to figure out which kind of mindset resulted in the best outcome. Does it help to be optimistic? Does that lead to better results? Researchers asked participants about their overall satisfaction with their life and mental health. They also asked about the participants’ finances as one way to measure their expectations and how that related to their well-being.
Realists came out on top when it comes to overall life satisfaction and their mental health. Researchers believe that approximately 80% of people are unrealistic optimists. Although pessimists often believe that it’s best to have low expectations to avoid disappointments, pessimists didn’t get good results on life satisfaction or mental health.
Realists are those who don’t assume that they will have a good or bad outcome. They simply plan on evidence that they have available to them.
What Are the Benefits of Being Realistic?
It seems that being realistic with your expectations will lead to more positive outcomes than being just positive all the time no matter the realistic situation that you have in front of you. The main problem for optimistic people is when their hopes and optimistic expectations don’t realize themselves in reality. On the other side, pessimistic people often don’t see things when they go well. Realistic people tend to have realistic expectations.
Chris Dawson, co-author, and professor stated in a news release:
“I think for many people, research that shows you don’t have to spend your days striving to think positively might come as a relief. “We see that being realistic about your future and making sound decisions based on evidence can bring a sense of well-being, without having to immerse yourself in relentless positivity.”
This doesn’t mean that we should never be positive but that we should be realistic with our actions, possibilities, and expectations. This research gives a whole new meaning to toxic positivity and why it’s important to be realistic especially when you are making big life decisions.