Being hopeful and confident about the future or the successful outcome of something is actually unnatural to us human beings. Some research shows that people who are pessimistic are in fact more realistic. Evolutionarily, we were programmed to be pessimistic, to imagine the worst-case scenario, which then kicked our flight/fight system into gear and enabled us to get away from many predators, such as the lions, tigers, and bears that could and would have eaten us.
So just because we were programmed for decades and decades to be pessimistic, does that mean always imagining the worst-case scenario is helpful to us today? No. The modern world looks very different from that of our lions, tigers, and bears days … now, I am in no way saying that we do not have predators or threats, because we all know we do, and lately our world does seem pretty scary. But our threats have a much different type of makeup, and pessimism doesn't seem to be the answer for survival.
Throughout my research, I have found very little benefit in "pessimism" for humans today. I completed my doctorate in clinical psychology, and being interested in the half-full glass for almost all my life, I decided to take an unusual path during my graduate career—I made it my business to study and practice optimism.
I believe that the practice of optimism in no way implies a perma-smile or a forever rosy outlook. Practicing optimism means to increase the positive future thoughts one has about themselves and the world around them. Optimism, like much else, is looked at on a spectrum. In my practice, I help someone figure out just where they are on that spectrum and what their personal "Optimism Factor" is. Then, together, we use specific practices and skills to continue traveling upward from there.