Listening to the radio I heard a station running a competition that is a common format. You register your number with the station, then at a designated time the station makes a call to a random number from the list. The person must answer within five rings and state the prescribed words to win a significant amount of money. I was struck by how happy the winning voices sounded. Not just because they had won, but they sounded ‘happy people’ and this interested me as a psychologist.
Let’s just look at the logic of why it might be that that happy people win the prize. The optimist listens to the radio and thinks ‘I will register my number, you never know’. While the pessimist believes they will never win so why waste their time. This is the first opportunity the pessimist can miss. At the designated time the optimist listens for the call, still thinking there is chance of winning. Meanwhile the pessimist is away from their phone because they still believe it will never happen, even if they registered their number; the second missed opportunity. If they do pick up the call at the designated time, their pessimistic expectation means they have already discounted the possibility that it could be the radio station so fail to deliver the right message, missed opportunity number three. Meanwhile the optimist still believes there is a chance of winning so says the required phrase. Now, the optimist could be wrong, and it is just a friend calling with whom they now have a very light-hearted chat about the weird opening. But, no harm done, the worst outcome is sounding a bit silly with the latest cold call!
Ultimately, ‘you have to be in it to win it’. An optimistic frame of mind opens opportunity. It will not guarantee success, but a pessimist approach will certainly guarantee failure.
When have you failed to take an opportunity due to a pessimistic frame of mind?
When do you need to employ a more optimistic perspective?
What would more optimism give you?