How would you define yourself; as a person who sees the glass as half empty or half full? Beyond just a metaphor, research shows optimistic people generally have better emotional and physical health, including more blissful sleep. Yet if you assume the worst, you can learn how to be more optimistic. While it seems upbeat people are positive by nature, optimism is a learned trait. This means no matter how you view yourself and the world around you, you can shift your mindset.
Optimistic Versus Pessimistic: What’s The Difference?
Optimism and pessimism are usually defined on opposite ends of the spectrum. For example, pessimists have the attitude that things will go wrong and often view themselves and their life circumstances with a poor outlook. Even if things go their way, they can become suspicious and wary that a negative outcome will occur. On the other hand, optimists view life more positively. They see life as full of potential and perceive setbacks as temporary roadblocks to achieving their goals. However, whether we’re more optimistic or pessimistic is influenced by several factors, including our life circumstances, socioeconomic status, family dynamics, and even genetics. Because of this, it is possible to adopt the mindset that life is here for you rather than against you.
How to Be More Optimistic: 9 Tips That Help
1. Observe your thoughts
The first step to learning how to be more optimistic is investigating your thoughts. While thoughts are true, they are not facts. This means you can train your thoughts to see the positives despite challenges. One tip to do this is through positive reframing. For example, if you were late to work, disagreed with a coworker, and got a speeding ticket, you may think you had a terrible day. But if you shift your mindset, you might find some positives. Perhaps through the stress, you received a promotion, had lunch with your spouse, or played with your kids. When you challenge yourself to focus on the positives, it becomes an automatic habit that limits negative thinking and self-talk.
2. Focus on your successes
Scrolling on social media and learning about other people’s success makes it easy to fall into a comparison spiral and feel negative about your life and the world around you. When this happens, it’s tempting to listen to your inner critic and compare your timeline with others. Yet, try to remind yourself of the progress you’ve achieved. What goals have you accomplished that you’re proud of? Everyone experiences failure and bad days, and social media is a false representation of success. Therefore, reflect on your past achievements, appreciate the success you’ve obtained, and be proud of your timeline. This tip will improve your self-talk and help you look at your life through more positive lenses.
3. Surround yourself with optimism
Do you know that positivity is contagious? Unfortunately, negativity is too. So, if you have friends who focus on the negative, complain chronically, or even gossip, you may find yourself doing the same. But if you surround yourself with optimistic people, you’ll discover new tricks to viewing yourself and the world around you more positively, even in stressful situations. Evaluate your inner circle and determine whether your friends uplift you. If not, it may be time to add a few optimists to your life.
4. What does optimism mean to you?
You may think you need to be a human form of sunshine all the time, but you don’t. It’s not realistic and can lead to toxic positivity. Instead, define what optimism means to you, explore experimenting with more positive ways of viewing problems and situations and discover what feels most authentic. Remember, not acknowledging the negative aspects of life can keep you in denial and prevent you from creating change. Therefore, a balance of optimistic and realistic thinking will help you address barriers while seeing the bright side.
5. Become more mindful
Mindfulness is a wonderful technique that focuses on anchoring yourself to the here and now. It teaches you how to increase your self-awareness and accept your current thoughts and feelings instead of ruminating about past events or future concerns. This helps you feel more grateful for your current circumstances and less concerned about what is out of your control. To practice, you can follow breathing exercises, meditate, mindfully eat your meals, or adopt a mindful morning routine to start your day right.
6. Practice gratitude
Gratitude is the appreciation for what is meaningful and valuable in your life. And journaling about what you’re grateful for can help you foster an optimistic outlook. To start, write a few things you found joyful in your day. For example, perhaps a delicious dinner, a hug from your partner, or maybe you went outside and felt the sun on your skin. Thinking about things that make you happy each day helps you see life as more than stress. It shows you all the magical moments we often dismiss or forget.
7. Limit your news intake
Consuming the news can make anyone feel depressed and sad. While it’s great to be informed, it’s not a good habit if it’s your go-to downtime activity. Instead, limit your daily intake and balance the bad with a hobby that uplifts you and makes you feel better about the world. Perhaps, mindful walking, volunteering with animals or talking with a friend.
8. Drop the control
The most positive people are able to accept what they can control and drop what they can’t. They know dwelling on the uncontrollable will only create more sadness and pain. Not the easiest habit to practice, but acknowledging what you can and cannot control will help you foster emotional resiliency. For example, if you get fired from your dream job, you can’t control that this outcome happened, but you can control how you respond. Therefore, spend time acknowledging the pain instead of ignoring it, and take steps to create a plan to resolve it. This strategy allows you to take positive action while accepting situations that don’t always go as planned.
9. Don’t force it
Becoming more optimistic is like any new skill and requires patience, consistency, and motivation. It can feel tempting to fake it until you make it, but that’s not genuine, and the best way forward is to acknowledge your feelings and do your best. Therefore, when seeing life through more positive lenses, don’t force it and take one small step at a time.
Learning how to be more optimistic is a process that doesn’t come naturally to many, and if you find yourself struggling in the beginning, it’s okay. Remember changing your mindset is a balance, and finding the positives while acknowledging the difficulties is the best way forward.
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