I’ve been accused of being optimistic to the point of being delusional and until reading an article in the Huffington Post, I assumed that all of the play-it-safers telling me not to backpack through Guatemala alone or vacation in Columbia were the ones not in touch with reality. They’re exaggerating, I thought. They’re wussies. They’re only cautioning me against climbing that active volcano because they don’t know what they’re talking about.
But according to the journal Nature Neuroscience, it might be me whose risk assessment skills are a little out of whack. The study found that the brains of eternal optimists lack the ability to accurately process negative information. Optimists believe ‘everything will somehow work out in the end’, not due to any strength in character on their part, but due to a faulty wiring in their brains. And although the ability to look on the bright side can be a positive trait when someone is coping with say, the death of a friend, it can prove to be just the opposite when someone is deciding whether or not to skydive sans parachute.
As researcher Dr. Tali Sharot put it, “Seeing the glass as half full rather than half empty can be a positive thing –- it can lower stress and anxiety and be good for our health and well-being. But it can also mean that we are less likely to take precautionary action, such as practising safe sex or saving for retirement.”
What the study failed to do was offer any advice . Those wearing rose-colored glasses are brain-damaged. Okay. Got it. But what exactly am I supposed to do about it?
Not worry and (ha!) just hope for the best?