One of the most powerful determiners of creative thinking, creativity, and innovation is optimism. We know, it’s a lot more fun to complain and not actually do anything to make things better but, the reality is, it’s hard to be inventive and pessimistic at the same time.
Since you’re reading this blog, some part of you wants to maintain – or increase – your ability to think creatively. That’s a great thing! But if you’re like most of us, you have down days; times you don’t feel creative at all; periods of stressful life events. Everyone gets “pulled down” from time to time and sometimes even enjoy wallowing in their state of funk. What’s interesting to observe is the difference between the folks who:
- get pulled down and stay there,
- bounce back in average time, and
- bounce back so rapidly it’s hard to believe they even have bad days.
Of course, the latter is what creative-brain-seekers aspire to. This doesn’t mean they are unrealistic Pollyannas, it simply means they have built up their resiliency.
So how do you move more rapidly from the pessimist to the optimist? — From the gator brain to the inventive brain? — From the “bummer-to-be-around” to the “person-to-hang-with”?
It mostly boils down to how skilled you are at managing your mental self-talk. We humans have this interesting thing called “will” which is our ability to choose our thoughts; the ability to notice what we are thinking and exercise our will to choose a different thought pattern. The fancy term is “metacognition”. With practice, our ability to bounce back from pessimism to optimism gets stronger but, it will also atrophy if not used regularly. The way to coach people to notice and shift their thinking is by asking them to, “Pay attention to where you point your mental lens. You can make things better or worse depending on where your lens is pointed”.
If you need to vent on occasion, go ahead, and get it off of your chest, but then quickly refocuses your mental lens.
You’ll feel less stressed, more hopeful and yes, more optimistic as a result.