post written by: Angel Chernoff
9 Ways to Become an Optimist
Optimist: Person who travels on nothing
from nowhere to happiness.
Some people are more optimistic by nature, but optimism is not a fixed attribute. It’s a choice we have control over. Every morning, we either choose to wake up grumpy or wake up with a positive outlook. Research has shown that, in the long run, optimistic people handle stress better, get sick less often, live longer, and are happier and more successful than their pessimistic counterparts.
The good news is that we can all develop skills to improve optimism. Here are nine ideas to get you started:
1. Find the opportunity in every difficulty.
‘Optimist’ is a word which here refers to a person who focuses on the positive. For instance, if an optimist lost her left arm in a car accident, she might say in a hopeful voice, “I’m alive. I don’t have my left arm anymore, but I do have my right one, and my life still to live.”
Optimism does not mean ignoring the problem entirely; it means understanding that setbacks are inevitable, often temporary, and that you have the skills and abilities to combat the challenges you face. What you are dealing with may be difficult, but it is important to remain hopeful and positive about a brighter future. Optimism will inspire a sense of hopefulness and the confidence that is required to take full advantage of the opportunities that do exist. Remember, the most beautiful rainbows come from the sunlight after a very dark storm. Read Full Catastrophe Living.
2. Surround yourself with positive people.
You are only as good as the company you keep. If you’re around gloomy people, there’s a good chance you won’t be smiling. Make it your mission to dodge negativity. Surround yourself with supportive friends who have positive outlooks. As they say, if you want to soar with the eagles, you have to stop hanging out with the ducks.
Optimism is a learned habit, and it is positively contagious. Surround yourself with people who could infect you with positivity. In turn pass your new good mood on to a friend or stranger in words and deed – let somebody have that parking space, let that person with only a few items cut in front of you at the market. The simple act of doing something nice for others is actually a good pick-me-up all by itself.
3. Give love, receive love, and invest in love.
LOVE: It’s the greatest force in the universe. It’s a treasure that people would give anything for, yet it costs nothing to give and receive. There is an endless supply, and it can be extended to family, friends and strangers at any moment. It increases positivity and acts like a shield against negativity. It forgives, heals, encourages and inspires.
Give love, receive love and invest in love every day. Because where you invest your love, you invest your life.
4. Be realistic, and expect ups and downs.
A foundation of realism keeps things in perspective, and helps prevent things from being blown out of proportion. Just because you’re an optimist doesn’t mean you’re not going to have bad days. You will – that’s reality. Life isn’t always rainbows and butterflies.
Trying to be 100% positive all the time is wanting to be an ocean in which waves only rise up and never come crashing down. However, when we recognize that the rising and crashing waves are part of the same one ocean, we are able to let go and be at peace with the way things are.
Bottom line: Prepare for the worst but hope for the best – the former makes you sensible, and the latter makes you an optimist. Read Awareness: The Perils and Opportunities of Reality.
5. Inspire yourself with a smile and positive reminders.
If you expect the worst, the worst will happen. If you let things bother you, they will. But if you smile, you’ll feel better. Studies have shown that putting a cheerful smile on your face can trigger a part of your brain that actually makes you feel happier and more optimistic about the present and future.
Also, feed your optimism with positive reminders. Write down short statements that inspire optimism. Put them in places where you’ll see them every day, such as on your bathroom mirror, the inside of your locker, and on your computer monitor.
- “Anything is possible.”
- “Lead a life of positivity.”
- “The only thing I can control is my attitude towards life.”
- “I always have a choice.”
- “Even the longest journey begins with a single step.”
- “I will look at the sunny side of everything and make my optimism shine.”
Read The Happiness Project.
6. Work on the things you can control.
Pessimism is impractical because it causes you to spend time dwelling on negative things that haven’t happened yet, while simultaneously preventing you from getting things done now. Pessimism breeds indecision. It’s a waste of time, and time is a limited resource that you can’t afford to take for granted. Every minute spent worrying guarantees nothing but less time to enjoy what life has to offer.
The solution? Acknowledge the things you can’t control and don’t become a victim. Stop thinking about what is happening to you, and start thinking about what you can do to make it better. Know that you almost always have a choice. Is your job a bummer? Find a new one. Not ready to leave because of your 401K and vacation time? Then celebrate those reasons and remember that you chose to stay.
7. Count your blessings.
There is so much good, so much beauty, so much love in your life. You have so much right now to be thankful for, you just need to pause long enough to appreciate it. Do so. This will help frame a better attitude and take your mind off of the negatives.
Start a feel-good journal. Buy a blank journal and fill it with things that make you smile, like a photo of your pet, or a compliment a friend gave you. Use it to track your accomplishments and celebrate your victories. Stick only positive things in your journal and open it up whenever you’re feeling down.
8. Appreciate that nothing in life is permanent.
Research has shown that optimists and pessimists attribute the reasons for success and failure differently. Pessimists tend to attribute negative events to permanent, personal, and pervasive factors. Optimists tend to attribute negative events to non-personal, non-permanent, and non-pervasive factors. ‘Permanent’ are factors that will be with you throughout life; ‘personal’ are factors that relate to us as individuals; and ‘pervasive’ are factors that affect our ability in other parts of our life.
Bottom line: Nothing is permanent. However good or bad a situation is now, it will change.
9. Focus on the present.
People often obsess themselves with the past and the future. But life is happening right now. You can’t learn something or remember something that’s happening now if your mind is stuck in another time.
It takes about eight seconds of intense focus to process a new piece of information into your long-term memory. So don’t let your life and your mind slip away. Instead of dwelling on the past or worrying about the future, practice being and living in the present moment. Remember, right now is the only moment guaranteed to you. Right now is life. Don’t miss it.
Photo by: Martin