Defeating Pessimism

Rich Habits

Tom Corley is an accountant, financial planner and author of “Rich Kids: How to Raise Our Children to Be Happy and Successful in Life”, Effort-Less Wealth, Change Your Habits Change Your Life, Rich Habits Poor Habits and “Rich Habits: The Daily Success Habits of Wealthy Individuals.”

We are all naturally hard-wired for Pessimism.

Our initial response to unexpected events is pessimism.


Blame the amygdala. The amygdala is the seat of negative emotions. Those negative emotions (worry, anger, fear and anxiety) have served humans well.

Negative emotions act like a radar system, alerting us to dangers in our environment. Dangers that could imperil our very existence. They are part of our fight or flight response system, steering us clear of potential threats.

When danger is perceived, the amygdala gets toggled on, alerting us to it. It’s intended to be a temporary thing. The amygdala is supposed to quiet down, once the prefrontal cortex has a chance to evaluate the potential danger. The prefrontal cortex is the logic center of the brain.

The problem, however, is that modern day living creates chronic stress. This chronic stress is caused by worry about paying our bills, job insecurity, wars, constant fear of crime due to city living, health problems, etc. Because of chronic stress, the amygdala remains on high alert for many people.

This chronic negativity is bad.

According to the latest science, negativity shuts down the prefrontal cortex. As a result, solutions to problems remain elusive. When you are perpetually negative, you are literally shutting down half of your brain, making it impossible for you to find solutions to the problems you encounter in life. 

Successful people, however, have habitualized themselves to remain positive.

When a problem, threat or unexpected event occurs, their positive mental outlook works to silence the amygdala, allowing the prefrontal cortex to get right to work solving the problem, threat or unexpected event. But, here’s the important thing – successful people weren’t born different from everyone else. They worked hard to develop the positive mental outlook habit. 

In my research, I discovered some of the tricks the self-made millionaires used to maintain a positive outlook on life: daily exercise, journaling, scripting your ideal future life, expressing gratitude every day, meditating and associating with other positive people, while avoiding negative people. I’ve written extensively about each one of these positivity tools on my Rich Habits website and in my book, Change Your Habits Change Your Life.

So long as you are alive, you will confront problems. That’s just life. It doesn’t matter if you’re rich or poor, there will always be problems. To turn off the negativity bias inside your brain, you must make an effort to stop negativity in its tracks. Every problem has a solution. When you confront problems with a positive mental outlook, you are able to shut down that ingrained negativity bias, and when you do, solutions to all of your problems will magically manifest out of thin air.

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