Tali Sharot: The optimistic bias

19 May

From the TED webpage: “Are we born to be optimistic, rather than realistic? Tali Sharot shares new research that suggests our brains are wired to look on the bright side — and how that can be both dangerous and beneficial.

Tali Sharot studies why our brains are biased toward optimism.”

“Whatever happens, whether you succeed or you fail, people with high expectations always feel better, because how we feel — when we get dumped or we win employee of the month — depends on how we interpret that event.” (Tali Sharot)


This morning as I sipped my coffee and looked out my kitchen window – I saw the following.  A grey squirrel having breakfast at the bird feeder happily munching on sunflower seeds looking right at me.  Songbirds perched in the magnolia tree waiting their turn at the feeder.  A hummingbird flitting amongst the potted annuals on the deck sipping sweet nectar from the blooms.  Then I looked down to the garden with the spring bulbs and perennials blooming, over to the white lilacs in full bloom, the best showing yet on this fairly young bush.  Then back to the middle where the leafs are budding out on the grapevine dad started for me from a slip off his favorite grapevine.  The same grapevine that I had at the old place, planted so many years ago, and after we moved my partner went back and dug up for me in the dead of winter because it was from dad, and somehow it survived that to grow and thrive here too.  That is my morning ritual and makes me happy.

The other day during my morning ritual, I was thinking about how optimistic I really am and how so many different parts of my life were all based on optimism – then I found the Ted Talk above.  If I wasn’t optimistic, I would not be talking today (literally and figuratively).  I believe change can happen, if enough people start talking about things that need changing.  That we can grow and evolve and remove our wants and desires when exploring a tough topic, and look at the reality of all facets of something and brainstorm, educate, and make it better for all – and that is what I want for adoption. 

Yet I am also a realist, because of the hard knocks I have experienced that taught me that I too, was vulnerable to bad things, and that also ensured I grew as a human being.  While I have a long way to go, I matured and gained the gift of empathy and the skills to assess the risks and ways protect me, if something happened.  At work one of my responsibilities was risk management and to review contracts from a compliance aspect, and note where we could, or could not comply, or when I felt the risk was to high for the company to take, and what changes needed to be negotiated.  I loved that part of my job – it made me think and assess our strengths and weaknesses, implement safeguards by processes yet not limiting productivity, and still made us stronger. 

Looking back it seems I have always instinctively wanted to trust everyone and believe their intentions are good, but I also assess them, to see if I truly can trust them, and they have to show by their actions that they deserve the trust I have in them. If they betray that trust – it is never the same again as unconsciously, I wait for them to do it again, know they will do it again.  I expect that is the adoption side coming out, and that too is part of me and has always been a part of me, the realistic side that things don’t always work out the way you want them to.

When I was starting to get sick and then the time spent in the hospital and recovery, the thought that I could die never entered my consciousness.  At the same time my realistic side kicked in and ensured when I was able, I got my house in order, that my living will was written, that my will was updated, that despite my optimism, I understood the reality was – that things might not work out if there was a next time.  That last part is also a blessing because you make sure each day counts, and the people you love, know you love them.  That you live the rest of your life with no regrets.

1 Comment

Posted by on May 19, 2012 in Adoption


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One response to “Tali Sharot: The optimistic bias

  1. Dannie

    May 19, 2012 at 6:08 pm




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