While there are benefits to staying in a positive frame of mind, this behavior also has some downsides. Optimism does have its benefits, but it also has a time and place. Not every situation in life can or should be viewed through rose-colored glasses. Always looking on the bright side certainly sounds like a great way to live, but there actually are times when being over-positive can have detrimental effects.
One of the biggest drawbacks to persistent positivity is that it can lead to the creation of unrealistic expectations. When things do not end up working out, as some eventually will, it can be an enormous letdown. If a person always expects the best, it can be difficult to cope with life when situations go wrong or do not pan out.
It is important to have confidence in order to overcome difficult circumstances and situations, but it is equally important to be realistic. One person simply cannot handle everything that life throws at them. Having a healthy outlook means expecting some things to turn out differently than one may hope for and knowing that this type of behavior is not pessimism, but rather realism.
Underestimating Risks and Falling Short
An optimist may believe that they can handle anything that comes their way and take on all of the tasks that are presented to them. This can lead to over-extending and over-scheduling, causing a person to put too much on their plate and miss deadlines. Productivity can actually decrease when a person underestimates resources, does not account for potential additional financial costs, and fails to recognize possible roadblocks and hurtles to overcome.
It is smart to do a risk and benefit analysis with most situations in life. Not every choice that a person makes is going to be the right one, no matter how optimistic they may be. It can be all too easy to fall short at some point.
Making Irresponsible Choices
People who stick only to optimism and the power of positive thought may be setting themselves up for disaster in some areas of their lives. By believing that everything will always go right, it is quite possible to overlook the areas where things have a chance of going wrong and as a result, make choices that are personally and financially irresponsible. It is important to adapt not only one’s thinking, but also one’s behavior when making major decisions.
It can be argued that the economic crisis is partially the result of overly optimistic individuals who believed that they could have it all in life. Some people made poor decisions with regards to taking on loans and mortgages that they truly could not afford in the long run. By thinking that everything would simply work out for the best, folks failed to consider the real risks involved with their behavior.
Incorrect Perceptions of Others
An over-optimistic person is likely to think the best of all the people that they encounter on a regular basis. By seeking the best in others, an optimist can fail to use proper judgment when it comes to perceiving risk. They may be more likely to find themselves in a potentially dangerous situation. It is impossible to predict the behavior and actions that others may take, so optimists need to take that into account.
There is a difference between being a pessimist and simply being realistic. By knowing when to use cautious thinking and behavior that reflects that caution, a person can mitigate the risks in certain situations. Being over-positive has its pitfalls, so that is why it is so important to strike the right balance in life in order to plan ahead, make smart choices, and still maintain a certain degree of healthy positivity.
Sarah Daren is a writer who creates informative articles in relation to health. In this article, she describes possible negative affects to being an optimist and aims to encourage further study with an applied behavior analysis program online.