“Look on the bright side.” Is this a blurred vision for you? Some people are perpetual optimists while others dwell in the realm of pessimism. There are also people who are somewhere in the middle. Here are 10 ways to build optimism.
Why should you be optimistic?
If you’re looking for one self-improvement effort that pays off, this is it.
For one thing, optimism leads to a longer life (and a happier one). The results of a 2019 study showed that optimists live 11% to 15% longer than average and are more likely to live to the age of 85 or older. They also have a lower risk of heart disease and high blood pressure. Positive thinkers are more likely to succeed in their careers, too.
I’ve had occasions in my life when my knee-jerk reaction was to see the pessimistic side of a situation, but I learned to maintain a positive mindset.
Why would you want to gain hope that hopeless situations will turn around? Why would you choose to wear the rose-colored glasses when they color your view? Positive thought breeds positive outcomes, and the reverse is true. Which would you rather cultivate?
Here are 10 tips for overcoming pessimism in your life and becoming an optimist..
#1. Recognize negative thoughts and ideas.
The first step to changing a behavior is acknowledging it. Be cognizant of negative ideas, thoughts, and speech. Whenever the words “not”, “can’t”, and “won’t” creep into your conversation, look for a more positive way to say it. For example, “That can’t happen” could be switched to “How can we make that happen?” Even simple phrases, like “We’re not going” could have a more positive feeling when you look at it as “We’re staying home and relaxing.”
Listen to the negative words and ideas from people around you. Think about how you can shift them to an optimistic viewpoint, even if you don’t voice it.
#2. Count your blessings.
There’s nothing like gratitude to boost your optimism. Pessimists fret and grouse over what they don’t have, ignoring the incredible value of everything they already possess. If you have your health, a place to live, food on your table, and people in your life who matter, what else do you truly need? Those are the fundamentals. From there, you can make anything happen just by choosing carefully.
#3. Focus on a solution, not the problem.
Have you ever worked with someone who is forever finding fault with ideas or people? They thrive on problems, yet never offer a solution. Don’t be that person. They’re often the one that other people avoid! When you dwell on the problem, you’re wasting time and energy that could uncover the answer.
#4. Applaud small successes.
The big win happens once in a while. Don’t wait to celebrate your major achievements. Think about what you did today that was positive. Maybe you completed something on your “To Do” list that has been nagging you for a long time or you made someone smile. Whatever it is, find something every day to feel good about.
#5. Offer kindness.
Being kind costs nothing but delivers a powerful ROI. Compliment a stranger, thank a co-worker for doing something extra, and let someone step ahead of you in a line. Lend a hand to someone in need, even something as simple as reaching for something high on a shelf that they can’t get. For every act of kindness, you’ll feel a boost of positive energy.
#6. Turn over the downside.
A pessimist looks at the worst that can happen. An optimist knows there’s a silver lining in those dark clouds hanging overhead. Once you’ve become aware of negative thoughts, you can push yourself to look on the bright side. Switch the pessimistic view by starting with “At least we didn’t….” End every conversation and activity with a positive spin so you’re not leaving with a depressing thought.
#7. Seek opportunity in losses.
So maybe you didn’t make a sale today, but did you create an opportunity for yourself? Did you learn how to better communicate with a customer’s objection? Every time you experience something that didn’t go the way you hoped, learn from it. That is the undeniable value of mistakes! Examine what went wrong and use that knowledge to do better next time. There are no failures when there is a lesson learned.
#8. Surround yourself with happy people.
You are a reflection of the company you keep. If you’re surrounded with naysayers and people who are unhappy with their lives, what will they contribute to your goal of becoming optimistic? Life will be so much more pleasant when you share it with happy people.
A friend who worked in radio told me that the trick to pumping energy into her voice was to smile when she spoke. A smile is a powerful thing. Smile at a stranger—even if they don’t smile back, you’ll feel good.
#10. Believe in the power of optimism.
Belief is powerful. Believe you can achieve success, and you’ve overcome a major hurdle. Call yourself an optimist. Fill your glass halfway and look at it. Remember, you can only see the liquid, but air fills the rest of the glass. The things you can’t see will often be the fillers in your life. Look for them. And raise your glass to the possibility of positivity.