How optimistic are you?
Research has shown that people who think optimistically are happier, healthier, live longer and have better relationships. When dealing with difficulties in their lives, they also experience less distress and anxiety than pessimistic people do.
Optimism is sometimes dismissed as “pollyanna” positive thinking, where you deny the negative things going on or put on a veneer to pretend everything is okay.
That’s not optimism. That’s kidding yourself.
Real optimism is looking for the best in a situation. It also involves an expectation that, overall, you will achieve positive outcomes and experience a positive future, despite any negatives.
Being optimistic involves realistically seeing both the negative AND the positives in a situation whereas being pessimistic usually involves only seeing the negatives and dismissing or discounting the positives.
Here are some things you can do each day to practice being optimistic:
1. Broaden Your Perspective
A lot of stress can be traced back to unrealistic or distorted thinking. When you find yourself fixated on one negative thing or going over a difficult situation in your head over and over, it’s time to get some balance. Deliberately shift your perspective from being narrowly focused on one thing, to a broader view of your overall situation.
Ask yourself: “What’s the big picture?”, or “At the same time as this is happening, what is going well?”
2. Monitor your self-talk
Think about how you talk to yourself. Is it positive or do you judge yourself harshly? So often we speak much more harshly to ourselves than we would to others. Speak kindly and positively to yourself, as you would to a friend.
3. Let the past go
We can’t change the past but we can stop it from happening again. When we keep dwelling on the past, we’re only bringing past hurts or mistakes into our present. Take the lessons that you learned from your past experiences and move forward with positive expectations for the future.
4. Be grateful
Researchers have found that spending time dwelling on what is good in your life is a proven way to increase your happiness and sense of wellbeing for sustained periods. It strengthens the memories of these good experiences in your brain as well as releasing positive hormones that make you feel good. Practice it daily and you will become more positive and optimistic. Guaranteed.
5. Find positive people to spend time with
Attitudes are contagious. Being around others who have a good attitude can give your own optimism a boost. We feed off the energy of other people so try to surround yourself with as many positive people as possible.
There will always be ups and downs in life. Remember, it’s usually through the times that are hard or uncomfortable that we really grow. Developing an optimistic mindset will help you to enjoy good times more, whilst also assisting you to stay mentally well during hard times.
Which of these could you choose to do today?