An optimist refers to someone who chooses to focus on the positives within any given situation. This doesn’t mean they look at the world through rose coloured glasses or live in denial of their reality. An optimist understands that set backs are a part of life and chooses to take advantage of the opportunities that exist within that situation regardless of how good or bad it may appear.
Problems and challenges are a part of life. By being more optimistic and choosing to view all the bumpy parts of life in a more positive light, you will be far more likely to experience increased happiness, better health and greater success.
Invest in Your Physical Health
Take a holistic approach to your health. Your physical health can significantly impact your emotional health. Stay active through regular physical exercise that you enjoy, allow time for rest and relaxation and nourish your body with a healthy balanced diet. Optimism is tends to come a lot easier when you are feeling physically well.
Put Yourself First
To light other peoples candles you must first light your own. Pay attention to your own needs and do your best to meet them. Taking the time to invest in your own needs is not an act of selfishness. To give your best to your partner, your children or your career you must first be the best version of yourself.
Feed Yourself Positive Reminders
It may seem corny at first, but what you read and what you recite to yourself out aloud can have a significant impact on the way your brain thinks and how you act. Find positive quotes that resonate with you and surround yourself with them. You could put post-it notes up on the fridge or around the bathroom mirror. You can hang positive posters or canvases on your walls. Make sure your wall paper, screen saver and ring tone on your phone also offer positive feelings and affirmations. If you spend time driving in the car, play music that makes you feels good or even listen to positive affirmation recordings.
Stop Blaming Others
Remember that you are in control of who you are. While you may not be able to control some of the events that happen in your life, you most certainly almost always have a choice on how you deal with it. Choose not to waste brain power focusing on the things you can’t control and place all your though processes into what you can do to make the most of the current situation.
Be Grateful and Do Good
Take a few minutes each day to reflect on your day and think about all the blessings in your life. Whether big or small, they are always there. You might choose to be grateful for particular events of the day. You may simply be thankful that you are alive and that tomorrow you get the chance to do even better! Pass these blessings onto others. If you have enough money, you may feel good about donating money to charity. If you have extra time, give the gift of your time to someone who needs it. Not only are you helping someone else, it will make you feel good too. Acts of kindness do not always have to be grand. Sometimes simply holding the door for someone or offering them a smile will make their day.
Avoid Negative Influences
It may sound selfish at first but you must do your best to avoid negative people as much as you can. Sometimes we feel a sense of obligation to these people, especially if they are family. If you can’t avoid negative people, try to avoid getting involved in negative conversations with these people. For example, you may have an elderly neighbour who seems to enjoy complaining about his ill health at every opportunity. Rather than asking him how he is (we all know what he is going to say), try saying "It’s great to see you out getting some sunshine today" or " Good morning Sir! Wow your roses are looking lovely!" There are often subtle negative influences that we are less aware of. For example, if watching the news makes you feel bad, turn it off. Surround yourself with positive people and a positive environment as much as you can.
Focus on the Here and Now
Don’t dwell on the past or worry about the future. You can’t control or change what has happened in the past and you never know what the future holds. Right now is the only moment that is guaranteed, so make the choice to make the absolute most of it.
Set Positive Goals
Set yourself goals that you want to achieve both long term and in the short term. Make sure the goals are specific and that you also have an action plan of smaller ‘action goals’ that you need to achieve in order to achieve your larger goal. For example, your long term goal may be to buy a house. Your short term goal would then be to save a particular amount of money to put towards a deposit. It may seem daunting to save a large deposit, but by breaking it down into realistic weekly portions you can feel positive that you are moving in the right direction. Be sure that you break each goal down into achievable ‘action goals’. If you want to lose 10kg, plan how you are going to do it. Every time you commit to another 20 minutes of exercise, you have completed a positive action to help you toward your goal. Take time at the end of each day to celebrate all the small and large goals you have achieved or are closer to achieving. Maybe you conquered a large project at work. Maybe you feel great about getting all the laundry washed, ironed, folded and put away. However big or small, celebrate your achievements.
Fake it Till You Make it
Smile. It will instantly make you feel better no matter what your mood. It is very hard to feel depressed while you are smiling. Even if it may seem to be a ‘bad’ day, try not to project this onto others. Use your body language and the way you talk to emulate happiness. You will feel better, it will make others around you feel happy and will help to create a bubble of positive energy around you..
Find Opportunity in Every Difficulty
When you are confronted with a challenge, focus on the solution. When faced with a difficulty, a tragedy or a hardship it may be easy to feel like the world is conspiring against you. Sometimes the clouds are quite dark and it is hard to see that silver lining, but it is always there if you look hard enough. What can you learn from this experience to help yourself and others? Life is full of twists and turns, ups and downs. Opportunity is more often than not found in the valleys, not the peaks of life.
Optimism is a skill of emotional intelligence. Just like any other skill, it comes more naturally to some but it can be learnt by all. Over time, if you practice the above steps, you can learn to change your thinking patterns. If you are prone to negative or pessimistic thinking, don’t expect to become an optimist overnight. Just as it can take a long time to perfect the perfect golf swing, so does retraining your thought patterns. The more you practice being optimistic, the better you will become. Keep at it on a daily basis and don’t give up…. after all an optimist wouldn’t quit!