Do your friends and family call you a pessimist, when you swear you’re just being “realistic”? Are you known for your sunny outlook and the conviction that, like Annie, the “sun will come up tomorrow”?
Sometimes it’s difficult to tell whether you’re a positive or negative thinker because it’s hard to know, “compared to what?” Here’s a quiz to help you know whether you tend to see the bright side or focus overly on the things that could go wrong. Each question needs a yes/no answer.
- Are people drawn to you because of your upbeat energy?
- Do you feel anxious, as if you’re always waiting for the “other shoe” to drop?
- Can you see an opportunity in nearly every situation?
- Do you have a long memory for your mistakes, but barely remember your wins?
- Do setbacks fuel your creativity?
- Is it difficult for you to regroup and move forward when there is change involved?
- Do you get energized by reviewing your most recent successes?
- When things change, do you see new looming disasters rather than new possibilities?
- Do you really believe that “the sky’s the limit”?
- Do you spend more of your time thinking about obstacles than outcomes?
- Are you naturally good at reaching out to people and getting them excited about your ideas?
- When things go wrong, do you look for someone to save you?
- Do people want to work with you because of your confidence and natural energy?
- Are you often overwhelmed with feelings of helplessness?
- When you face an obstacle, are you confident that you can find a way around it?
- Do you regard optimistic people as simple-minded or naïve?
- Do you take charge of setbacks by looking for allies and new information?
- Do the things you fear loom so large that it’s difficult to do anything?
- Are you constantly building on your past successes?
- Do you feel afraid much of the time?
- Can you look at a problem or a situation from different perspectives, even put yourself in the shoes of another person to see things with an open mind?
- Do you consider asking for help a sign of weakness?
Count up your answers. If you answered “yes” to the odd-numbered questions most of the time, you tend toward an optimistic outlook. If the even-numbered questions got most of your “yes” answers, you’re likely to be stuck in negative thinking.
Here’s a challenge—if you scored high for pessimistic thinking, make an effort each day for one week to reframe just one negative thought into a helpful, more positive idea. Gradually increase your quota day by day, and as you practice, reframing negatives will get easier and you’ll love the way positive thinking feels!