Originating from the country (Russia) full of people with predominantly pessimistic views on life the first thing I noticed after moving to Australia is people’s optimistic mindset which dominates across The Western Culture. When I started studying psychology the first thing I wanted to understand was that difference in people’s views. I wanted to see how optimists differ from pessimists and why. What made me wondering in the first place was the fact that we all live in the same world, face exactly the same challenges on a daily basis, but somehow one community remains optimistic while other - pessimistic. Here started another of my adventures on the way to discovery of human psychic.

Personality adjustment

No matter what some might say about how immigration can only change you in young age, I experienced the full personality adjustment after moving to Australia several years ago. Have I achieved the level of constant happiness the locals have? No, but my perception of the world has definitely changed. It changed to the point where I started to notice positive things almost in every situation. I became attuned to them, while ignoring the negatives. So, what have changed? I am still the same person and the world is the same, albeit the location is different.

The frog

To explain the phenomenon, let me give you a little marketing lesson (I am referring to All Marketers Are Liars book). Seth Godin compares human perception of advertising to that of a frog catching flies in the air. The frog eyesight is created the way that only allows it to see moving objects making it is blind to motionless things around it. This concentration allows the frog to spot moving flies better than anyone else can.

Selective behavior

Humans work in similar fashion when it comes to seeing advertising, we become blind to distractions - stuff we don’t want to see, while take notice of something we attune ourselves with. Just try to remember the time when you wanted to buy that Corolla and you immediately started seeing the same car on the street everywhere. Such thing happens because you start thinking, sending your brain signals about what you need to pay attention to. If people wouldn’t have such selective function we would simply be overwhelmed by the information pouring at us from the world every single day. It is a sort of defensive mechanism that allows us to see what we want and ignore the rest.

Back to the optimists and pessimists. Just like with items we are interested in people can consciously choose what type of things they want to take notice of (positive or negative ones). The choice can be done consciously or subconsciously when your world view gets influenced by your peers’ world view.

Realism

There is another characteristic which is often mentioned when we talk about optimism and pessimism, which is realism. Realism doesn’t exist. Despite your world view, you consciously choose to believe into something, be it pessimistic, optimistic or realistic. All of those things exist only in your imagination, even when you believe that something is real. You might find people who share your view, but there will be others who don’t.