Optimism is a learned skill like any other skill or habit you want to develop. Having an optimistic attitude of yourself, of life and the world can have a huge impact on your mental wellbeing and resilience, even boosting your immune system and lowering your blood pressure. Studies have shown that optimists have better career prospects and live longer happier lives.
Here are five tips for developing a more optimistic view of the world.
- Identify as an optimist
Self-talk is powerful! Start telling people you’re an optimist, and you’ll soon begin to believe it, and forget you were ever even slightly pessimistic.
- Accentuate the positives
Notice and acknowledge the positive things around you. Small things like having good food, clean water, and being able to read this article for example. A good exercise is to list ten things you’re grateful for every day – they don’t have to be big things, jot down whatever comes to mind.
- Stop comparing
No good comes from comparing yourself to others. There will always be someone who is richer, thinner, more successful than you at any one time, and their success or luck isn’t connected to you at all. Don’t be tempted to lock yourself into a small, comfortless cell of jealousy. Instead think that if they can do it, so can you. Think abundance (there’s more than enough for everybody) instead of scarcity (if they’re successful then you can’t be).
- Shift your focus
Optimism is dynamic and forward-looking. Develop a more optimistic outlook by moving on from the past and instead enjoy the present and actively look forward to the future. Optimists also don’t spend much time dwelling on whatever not-so-good things are in their lives. They acknowledge that bad things happen to everyone, and when bad things do happen, it’s not necessarily their fault. Bad times come, and bad times go, and good times usually happen just as often.
- Don’t get hung up on one outcome
Putting all your eggs in one basket is risky, and it’s highly likely you will be disappointed. It’s also harder to pick up and move on if things don’t work out. An optimist will be flexible about outcomes and see that there are lots of different possibilities. If this one didn’t work, another maybe even better opportunity will come along.
Optimism and pessimism are not hard-wired into people. They are qualities you can change. You can choose to develop a more positive outlook on life and find that you’ll have a happier, healthier, better life!
6 Ways to Cultivate Optimism Each Day
Optimism and pessimism are ways of looking at yourself and the world through a positive or negative filter. Once you think of them as reflections of your mindset, it becomes much easier to believe you can change. Like any new behavior, you need to practice every day for it to become a habit. Try these six suggestions to cultivate your optimism every day.
- Keep a journal
Journaling or keeping a diary allows you to process events and to get a different perspective on them. It encourages self-reflection and captures insights into your thinking and behavior. You can write down what happened during your day and document, not just the bald facts but how you did it, what you did to make it happen and what you did right. And, importantly, how it felt while you were doing it. Don’t just record the good things (a promotion, a presentation or meeting that went well), remember to write down the thing that didn’t go so well and reflect on what happened, how you dealt with it, and what you might do differently next time.
Consciously notice the funny side of things and write them down. If the technology didn’t work, and you had to give the presentation without the slide deck, or the power went out, or there was a fire drill in the middle of your crucial meeting. What can seem like a disaster at the time can also be looked back on as a comedy of errors.
- Write to your future
Write a letter or a journal entry that sets out the future you want. What job are you doing? Are you running your own business? What have you learned? What has changed? Imagining how your future life looks and feels can be a powerful motivator.
- Keep a kindness list
Have a page in your journal where you note down kind gestures. Write down when you are kind to someone, or when someone is kind to you. Even little things count, like opening a door for someone or letting them go first in the line for coffee. You’ll be surprised at how quickly they mount up, and your ever-lengthening list will give you a different perspective on things.
- Say thank you
Write a letter or email, phone or visit someone (a person outside your family) who has been genuinely kind to you. Tell them how much you appreciate what they did or said and how it has affected your life.
- Choose positivity
Make the positive choice to develop and maintain an optimistic outlook. Do this every morning when you wake up. Decide that today is going to be a great day. Everyone will have some level of suffering in their life. Choosing to be optimistic will make it easier to bounce back from the bad times and to enjoy and be certain of the good times.