What approach do you take towards life’s circumstances, “the glass half empty or half full”? This expression is more than a universally known proverbial phrase. In fact, it reveals a personality trait: optimism or pessimism. When you view the glass half full, you believe in yourself to overcome any obstacle and see the setback as temporary. And learning how to be more optimistic is possible. No matter how you view life’s circumstances, you can improve your attitude, perspective, and self-worth.
Pessimism vs Optimism: What’s the Difference?
The most defining characteristic between pessimists and optimists is how they view obstacles. For example, pessimists believe unfortunate events are permanent or will continue to populate, affecting their ability to create the life they deserve. As a result, they see themselves at the center of this “bad luck”, believing they are at fault for everything. Yet optimists see obstacles as an opportunity to grow and adopt new ways of solving the problem. At the center, they don’t fault themselves. Instead, they believe defeat is a result of circumstances out of their control, a temporary case of bad luck, or other elements like people or the situation itself. Therefore, they can bounce back quicker without the setback defining their character or worth.
9 Reasons You Should Be More Optimistic
There are a plethora of reasons you should strive to become more optimistic. Imagine an improved life quality on all cylinders.
- More success personally and professionally
- Increased critical thinking and problem-solving skills
- Improved self-worth and confidence
- Better relationship with failure and setbacks
- Reduced stress and a stronger immune system
- Increased longevity
- Decreased levels of anxiety and depression
- A happier life in multiple aspects
- Improved resilience – the ability to bounce back quicker
How To Be More Optimistic: 8 Tips that Help
1. Create different explanations
Martin Seligman, psychologist and author, explains in his book, “Learned Optimism“, the best step to improving your outlook is the explanation theory. His theory suggests we create an explanation for everything in our lives affecting our mood and behavior. The three elements are: personal vs. impersonal, specific vs. general, and temporary vs. permanent. For example, say your car broke down, an optimist would interpret it as an unlucky situation (impersonal) and a temporary setback. However, a pessimist might view it as “It’s my fault (personal), my life is a failure (specific), and these problems will always occur (permanent). Therefore, begin how you assign explanations to life’s circumstances and follow the three tips of an optimist: impersonal, general, and temporary, to view situations as they are, bumps in the road rather than permanent roadblocks.
2. Follow the ABCs
The next step is to create awareness about your reactions to setbacks and resulting beliefs. One way to do this is to follow the ABC cognitive theory model.
- Adversity. The stressful event.
- Belief. How you interpret the event
- Consequences. Your behavioral or emotional response resulting from the event and beliefs
Start by journaling or tracking how you respond to obstacles. For example, if you’re late to work, do you respond believing you’re a failure and then binge eat to relieve stress? Analyze your beliefs and the consequences of each adversity.
3. Challenge your thoughts
The third step is to learn how to challenge your intrusive thoughts, beliefs, and explanations. For example, evaluate the likelihood or accuracy of each one. Say a friend doesn’t respond to your text message, and you immediately think, “She’s mad at me, and I understand why; I’m terrible”. Interject these thoughts by determining whether the facts support your belief. Maybe she’s busy or dealing with a personal matter – these are optimistic. If you keep creating pessimistic explanations, find evidence that challenges them. Continue to do so to create a habit of challenging how you respond to adversities.
4. Transform your relationship with failure
You can’t learn how to be more optimistic without altering your relationship with failure. According to psychologist Carol Dweck, there are two mindsets: Growth and fixed mindset. Someone with a growth mindset views failure more optimistically. For example, if their dream job rejects them, they see it as an opportunity to strengthen their resume and skill sets and apply again. However, someone with a fixed mindset believes it’s because they weren’t born with the required skills to achieve their dream. So, learn how to change your mindset by believing failure is a necessary prerequisite to accomplishing your goals. Use small failures as stepping stones to improve your relationship.
5. Recall happier experiences
Another tip for learning how to have a positive mindset is to recall moments where you succeeded. Moments where you persevered, used your strengths to achieve what you wanted and enjoyed where you were and what you were doing. You possess extraordinary strengths that allow you to experience happiness even if you don’t feel like it occurs often. Recalling these past moments provides evidence of life being beautiful and reminds you that setbacks and difficult emotions are temporary, not permanent. You can even write a list of these memories, including the traits you like about yourself, and tape it onto your mirror or refrigerator as a constant reminder of your power.
6. Surround yourself with higher vibes
Do you have a friend that takes the glass-half-full approach to almost every scenario? If so, start spending more time with them with an open mind. Doing so will allow you to learn new tricks and tools to adopt a more positive mindset. Even being around their uplifting orbit will inspire you to feel better, reach a higher vibration, and discover how to manifest what you want.
7. Don’t force positivity
There’s no rush to become optimistic today. Remember you’re rewiring patterns, limiting beliefs, and intergenerational trauma. This process requires time and patience. Therefore, take a slower approach. Incorporate a positive perspective in one area of your life in a way that feels realistic. For example, instead of viewing yourself as a failure every time you make a mistake, start creating more positive explanations and beliefs. One step at a time makes change achievable.
8. Heal from trauma
Most often, our mindset, whether it’s optimistic or pessimistic, is a result of our childhood experiences and trauma. Therefore, if you feel like adopting these tools isn’t working, and your mindset is affecting other areas of your life, consider speaking to a mental health professional. Not only will you learn further psychological tools like the ones in this article, but you’ll have a consistent support system to help you heal from trauma disrupting your ability to overcome obstacles and create the life you lovingly deserve.
If you view the glass half empty, remember you can learn how to be more optimistic. While it requires time and consistency, it’s possible to respond more positively towards life and its unfortunate circumstances. You contain the power to transform your life in every aspect.
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