This isn’t your typical definition of “optimist.”  Quanta Change founder Mimi Herrmann defined Optimists as people whose survival depends on creating a crisis today to prove that tomorrow will be better. “Tomorrow must be better than what’s going on today!”

The sensory brain, the part that stores our sense of self, can only comprehend the present moment.  Therefore, tomorrow is always the future—so that “better tomorrow” never comes. The Optimist, therefore, lives in constant crisis.  They get one fire put out only to have their brain generate a new one.

This constant struggle with crisis is set up by the way the Optimist experiences their Learned Distress and how they respond to it.  While most SQ patterns bury part or all of their Learned Distress, the Optimist buries nothing—they experience it all on the surface.  They feel intensely the sense that “something is wrong with me” in the realms of relationships, role in life, health, and achievement, and they feel compelled to work very hard to make it all OK.

They feel strongly that in order to survive, they must always win and they must always be perfect at doing things their own way.  But they also feel the pressure to gain other people’s approval and conform to others’ rules.  They’re in a constant tug-of-war: “My way.”  “No, their way.”  “No, my way.” “Their way.”  They’re usually warm, friendly people, and at the same time intensely competitive and opinionated.  Survival depends on feeling and expressing all of these things openly.

The breakdown of this pattern is just that the crises get too big to overcome at some point.  They will have overcome obstacles people with the other SQ patterns would think are insurmountable, but at some point they get too big even for the Optimist.

Quanta Change for the Optimist

The good has always been in the future for the Optimist, but never today.  So, the general direction of change for them is that “good” begins to happen now.  And that the good—in achievement, health, role, relationships—comes more and more easily, without the struggle that has been their constant mode of operation.  As they begin to discover their own uniqueness, they find that is really just their own place and way of being—not in competition with anyone, nor requiring anyone’s approval.

Want to know which SQ pattern is yours?  Take this free SQ test.