Optimism provides a multitude of benefits across many facets of life. Researchers have linked looking on the bright side to everything from improved pain tolerance to increased longevity. There’s no denying the incredible power that an optimistic outlook can have on your health, relationships, and performance.
But much like everything in life, it is possible to have too much of a good thing. Looking at everything in the world – including the business world – through rose-colored glasses can have negative consequences. Here are five ways when an overly optimistic outlook does more harm than good:
1. The Above Average Effect
The majority of us tend to think we’re above average in a lot of ways. Countless research studies show our tendency to think we’re smarter, more popular, healthier, and even better drivers than those around us. Despite the fact that it’s statistically impossible for 80% of us to be above average, the vast majority of people insist they belong in the top percentile of many activities.
While self-confidence is enormously important in many aspects of business, exaggerating your skills isn’t helpful. Thinking, “I’m a great presenter,” or “My leadership skills are superior,” may actually serve as a disadvantage if your overly inflated sense of self isn’t realistic.
2. The “This Will Be Easy,” Mindset
An overly optimistic outlook can cross over into arrogance if you’re not careful. Making assumptions such as, “I could quit smoking cold turkey tomorrow if I wanted to,” or “I don’t need to prepare for that presentation because I already know the material,” can have disastrous consequences.
Underestimating challenges can leave you unprepared and ill equipped. Believing everything in life comes easy can actually damage your self-worth. After all, if challenges are easy, shouldn’t you always succeed the first time? Denying that success requires hard work and sharp skills sells yourself short.
3. Confusing Positive Thinking and Magical Thinking
Sometimes people muddle the line between positive thinking and magical thinking. The notion that your thoughts have the power to change the course of the entire universe isn’t exactly backed by science. Yet, many people believe that if they wish hard enough they’ll win the lottery because their thoughts will increase their chances of hitting it big.
Assuming your thoughts alone have the power to make things happen can actually hold you back from reaching your greatest potential. After all, why get a job if you know you’re going to win the lottery any day now? Positive thinking only yields positive results when it’s combined with positive behavior.