Optimism and being more optimistic is this week’s theme.
“The optimist proclaims that we live in the best of all possible worlds; and the pessimist fears this is true.” ― James Branch Cabell
The official 4 days of the Easter holiday have just come to an end here and I am back in the office. We now enter a part of the year where it serves us well to have a healthy level of optimism. For some, it might be time to start really getting into shape for Summer, for others the end of the financial year means looking at our business goals for the next financial year, and for others, it might just be about revisiting resolutions and goals set for the year as we have passed the first quarter and start moving towards the halfway stage of the year.
Having a healthy level of optimism aids us and energises us regarding our goals – it can inspire us, make life generally more enjoyable and puts smiles on faces.
Our media coverage highlights so many issues going on in the world that can sour our experience of day-to-day life; seemingly endless calamities, dangers and problems such as terrorist attacks, shootings, earthquakes, floods, economic crises… The list just goes on and on.
That’s not all. Closer to home, you may have experienced your fair share of daily trials and tribulations. The heating is broken and needs fixing. The car wouldn’t start. The kids are arguing during breakfast. You have work deadlines.
And then there is the way that Monday gets presented by so many. So many people seem to dread Monday mornings. They may think “who in their right mind would want to wake up early in the morning, drag their poor body half asleep out of bed, and beat the morning rush to get to work?”
Well, there is one group of people who choose to do so. Namely, the optimists. People with optimism are our focus today and I want to help you to be healthily and appropriately more optimistic.
By the way, if you really do have an issue with Monday mornings, then have a read of this article to overcome that! How to Beat The Monday Blues.
Unlike pessimists, they see the glass as half full rather than half empty. They feel immense gratitude for whatever they do have. They look for the silver lining in those clouds up above, and sometimes just see the beauty in those clouds. And they are succeeding in so many aspects of life as a result.
Winston Churchill once said, “The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” If you want to really embrace this notion of Churchill’s, then go and read this article: Learn To Enjoy Life’s Problems.
With today’s current events we live through and hear about in the media constantly, it is so easy to focus on the negative side of life. But even a little bit of optimism in the event of difficulty, disappointment, or struggle can go a long way. Studies show that optimistic people are not only happier on a day-to-day basis, but they are also healthier and live longer lives than those who aren’t optimistic. A simple change in outlook can have an enormous positive impact on one’s professional and personal life.
According to renowned Stanford psychologist Dr. Carol Dweck, optimists have what we call a growth mindset. Unlike pessimists with a fixed mindset, optimists view challenges, obstacles, effort, criticism and the success of others in a radically different way.
In her research with 10 year-olds, Dr Dweck was inspired by how certain kids embraced challenges and were excited about being given the opportunity to solve a difficult project despite their youth. Growing from kids to adults, the developmental pathways of these youths impacted how they viewed success and failure.
Optimistic students with growth mindsets remained active and engaged when they got depressed. They continued to groom themselves, got out of bed, and tackled school problems head on.
Those with a pessimistic fixed mindset, however, will let school work go, withdraw from their social relationships, and opt to cut themselves off from the world when faced with failure.
In his book Learned Optimism, Martin Seligman highlights the benefits of optimism according to hundreds of studies. The research has shown the impact of being an optimist versus being a pessimist. For example, optimists tend to do much better in school, exceed the predictions of aptitude tests, have greater success when they run for office, show greater persistence when looking to achieve goals, age better, usually experience better health and may even live longer.
With this brief idea of the impressive evidence for leading a more optimistic life, what can you do to improve your optimism?
Here are some things you can do to start building those optimism muscles:
1. Be grateful: Have an attitude of gratitude when you start each and every day. Consider all the positive things that you’ve enjoyed and be thankful for every one of them. By doing so you will be able to see possibilities where others only see problems. You can take solace in patience and peace by expressing gratitude. Here is an article that will give you more evidence about gratitude and show you how to engage in it properly: Evidence Suggests That Being Materialistic Could Be Making You Unhappy – But Here’s The Antidote to That.
2. Imagine your best self: Visualise and imagine yourself in the best possible light, and exude confidence when you do so. Adopt the mantra of faking it till you make it. Picture yourself as somebody strong, confident, popular and smart.
If you need help with this, here are a couple of articles to help you advance your self-belief and make it easier to imagine being your best self:
a) Believe in Yourself!
b) How To Believe In You – 9 and a bit Ways To Advance Self-Belief.
3. Reward yourself along the way: The best way to imagine a brighter future is to make it happen yourself. You can do so by weaving in little everyday pleasures into your life, and draw down on those treats when you accomplish those tasks.
Reward yourself along the way. Recognise your progress, recognise milestones along the way and reward yourself for passing them.
4. Exercise: Very few things put you in a better mood than an enjoyable physical activity. Sports and exercises not only make you feel better – they also help to boost your mental and physical health which are added benefits. Do what you can to help yourself feel fit and well – your optimism will increase as a result.
5. Get close to nature: You might find that taking a walk in the woods or by the beach can be very therapeutic. The beauty and splendour of nature instantly puts many of us into a positive mood. SOme of your best thinking and an uplift in mood are likely to occur out in nature.
6. Memorise positive mantras: If you don’t already do so, make it a habit to read positive quotes and phrases. Better yet, stick a few of them on your wall, and recite them so that they become part of your mental programming.
Here is a detailed way to develop Mantras that will really work wonders with your optimism, though the article is aimed at runners, it applies to everyone and anyone. The Advancing of the Runner’s Mantra – Using Self-Hypnosis.
7. Spend time with positive folks: As the saying goes, you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. To build your optimism quotient, you need to choose who you spend your hours with. Opt for those who can build you up, see the glass as half-full, and encourage you. You don’t want to be surrounded by people who drag you downwards and drain you of your optimism.
8. Listen to uplifting music: You might indulge yourself in listening to some of your favourite songs whenever you feel a little blue. Think about how to play music in the bathroom too – the acoustics are wonderful! Plus the added benefit of feeling clean and fresh makes it a double boost for optimism!
9. Give others benefit of the doubt: Instead of allowing your imagination to go wild whenever you face criticism, look at the bright side of things. Perhaps you were scolded because the other person cared enough for you, or wanted you to learn. Or there could be a misunderstanding or miscommunication between the both of you that needs to be cleared up.Here are a couple of great articles to help you with positive thinking:
a) Positive Thinking: Being Positive in the Face of Negativity.
b) Being Positive: Creating A Happiness Filter Using Self-Hypnosis.
10. Live in the present: Do not dwell too much on the mistakes of the past, or try to predict the uncertain future. Instead, enjoy your time in the present. The true meaning of life is experiencing and savouring whatever you have right now.
11. Adopt healthy thinking habits: Again, in his brilliant book Learned Optimism, Martin Seligman helps people to explore the way they interpret the events in their lives and understand the effects of those interpretations. How you respond, react and perceive set-backs in life ultimately influences our levels of optimism and thus, our happiness.
Optimism and Pessimism are habits of thinking. Pessimists habits of thinking about bad events are to blame themselves about bad events, they tend to believe that these events will last a long time and that the consequences of these events will undermine everything they do.
Optimists do the opposite. They believe that circumstances or bad luck or other people are responsible for bad events that the defeat experienced is temporary and that the effects are limited to this specific area of their life.
At the core of pessimism is the feeling of helplessness. The feeling that you have no control of what happens to you. Optimists believe that you do have control. However, we need to understand that these habits of thinking are not written in stone. They are not ingrained within us. They have been learned throughout our lives and optimistic thinking can also be learned.
This was not always believed to be the case. One of the most significant discoveries in modern psychology in recent years is that people can choose the way they think. Here are a couple of articles that will help you with optimistic thinking habits:
a) Enjoying the Simple Stuff and Why A x B = C.
b) Using Self-Hypnosis To Discover How You Attribute Success and Failure.
Now that you’ve learned the benefits of optimism and learned the ways to add positivity to your life, go forth and make a difference in how you lead your life. Doing so would help you to live more fully, abundantly and happily – both at work and at play.