Is Optimism Weather Dependant?

Here in Calgary we are finally experiencing some nice warm (some would say ‘hot’) weather. It’s interesting how weather seems to affect our ability to be optimistic. It’s difficult to stay positive and upbeat when the weather is not so pleasant. You may not have noticed it when the weather is unpleasant for many days or weeks in a row, but when the weather suddenly turns nice, it sure seems noticeable! Are we human beings that fickle that weather can affect our outlook? Some would say we’re actually hard-wired for positivity and that if we weren’t, we’d not have the instinct to survive as a species.

The woman whose photo appears above is Dr. Tali Sharot, author of, “The Optimism Bias: a tour of the irrationally positive brain.” She talks about how if we didn’t think that things would ‘turn out all right’ we wouldn’t try anything and so this is a survival mechanism for us human beings. Now, I’m dramatically simplifying Dr. Sharot’s argument, but it is interesting to think about the optimism of people who feel they are not working toward’s their goals and dreams for their own lives. And when we look closer at their optimism, we find that, in some cases, there are problems with their ability to see that ‘things will turn out all right.’

Check out Dr. Tali Sharot’s TED Talk here.

Any time you hear any of the “not-blank-enoughs,” you should be alerted to the need for optimism. You know, when people say they are not talented enough, not skilled enough, not _____ enough, they are viewing themselves in ways that prevent them from succeeding. We have to embrace the idea that ‘things will turn out all right” in order to proceed with our plans. Henry Ford’s famous quotation, “whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t, you’re right” highlights the idea of the self-fulfilling prophecy and the importance of optimism. No one is arguing for unmitigated optimism not grounded in reality, however, what we can do is look at our own perspectives and our own thinking to see how we are getting in our own way.

What do you think? Please comment below.

 

2 Comments

  1. I am living in California – the Golden State. We have a lot of sun which leads to the question: Are people here happier and have a more optimistic view of life than people living in Germany for example? I am originally from Germany and therefore I know what I am talking about. The weather can be really miserable and so can be the people. Even though it is not scientifically proven (I have not read any surveys dealing with this topic) that people are more cheerful in California than they are in Germany, I came to the following conclusion simply by observation:
    Rather optimistic people living in Germany will not allow the weather ruling their lives and attitudes while the ones who are struggling with bad mood find it very hard to recover when they are doomed with weeks of rain and grey skies for many months.
    In California on the other hand, the ones who are in a bad mood have no good excuse to keep up their bad temper. When they show lack of optimism they are generally suffering from serious depressions which need medical attention.

    Since I am looking at the bright side of life, I decided to spend my days in sunny California even though the economy is pulling you down. At least the good weather is for free and there is not tax on it yet. As an optimist I am sure that this will not change in the distant future.

    Hertha

  2. Thank you for your observations, Hertha! It would make a wonderful study, if it’s not already been done, to see if people are more optimistic in California than in Germany. Please let me know if you come across any such studies. Best Regards, David

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