Happy Monday! Let’s Be Optimistic and Make It Great!
But, can we really, you know, do it? Life can get us down, but it is up to us, to keep it together. Now, I am living witness of not being optimistic the last few months. It brings me to shame to, because I’m a Sagittarius and being optimistic is one our main traits. I used to be very optimistic until life started to show me that everything that glittered was not gold. I mean, I wanted it to be gold, well, I would rather that it was. But, let’s face it, the world does not work our way, which leads me to being more optimistic about life.
We often focus on the things that happen and are not working in our lives that we forget how blessed we truly are. Not to get all religious on you, but the bible says, ” When you are grateful for little, he will bless you with more.” This has been my new approach of late, being happy where I am. I have a roof over my head and food in my mouth. Things will get better in time.
Being More Optimistic
The term optimistic means, ” hopeful and feeling confident for the future”. Understand that you are not your circumstances or your struggle. This also has to do with our mindset as well. Check out my post about having a positive mindset. Here are some ways that you can work on your optimism. I got some help from Wiki on how to be optimistic.
1. Recognize the good and bad in your life and examine how you’ve been affected by each. Optimism doesn’t mean you have to feel “happy” all the time. In fact, trying to force feelings of happiness during potentially traumatic experiences can be unhealthy. Instead, attune yourself to the full range of emotions in your life, accepting that the negative as well as positive feelings are a natural part of human experience. Trying to repress a certain type of emotion can cause severe emotional distress. Not focusing more on one type of emotion than the other can actually help you become more adaptive and proactive in future unexpected situations. This will increase your ability to be optimistic and resilient in the face of uncertainty.
Negative feelings can become a conditioned habit over time. Avoid blaming yourself for negative emotions and associations. Blame is unhelpful because it doesn’t look forward to how you can grow; it looks backward at what has already happened.
Instead, focus on being mindful of when these negative emotions occur. A journal could help you do this. Write down when you experience negative feelings or thoughts, then examine their contexts and explore alternative ways of responding to them.
For example, imagine that someone cuts you off in traffic. You respond by feeling angry, honking your horn, and perhaps yelling at the driver even though s/he can’t hear you. You could write in your journal what happened, how it made you feel, and what your immediate response was. Don’t judge yourself as “right” or “wrong,” just write down what happened.
Next, take a step back and think about what you’ve written. Was your response in accordance with your values and the type of person you want to be? If not, what could you have done differently? What do you think you were really responding to? For example, perhaps you weren’t really angry at the driver; maybe you had a stressful day and allowed your stress to explode on that one person.
Look forward when you write these entries. Don’t use them just as a place to wallow in negative feelings. Think about what you can learn from the experience. What can you use to grow as a person? Can you use this experience to inform other experiences? If you encounter a similar situation next time, how might you respond in a way that is in line with your values? For example, perhaps realizing that you responded with anger because of your stressful day could help you realize that everyone makes mistakes and encourage you to feel more empathetic with other people the next time someone shows anger toward you. Having a pre-existing idea of how you want to respond to negative situations can also help you in the tough moments.
2. Practice mindfulness. Mindfulness is a key component of optimism because it encourages you to focus on acknowledging your emotions in the moment without judging them. Often, negative reactions arise when we try to struggle against our feelings, or when we allow ourselves to become so blinded by our emotions that we forget that we can control how we respond to them. Focusing on your breathing, accepting your body and your feelings, and learning from your emotions rather than denying them can help you become comfortable with yourself, which is important when those negative emotions arise.
Mindfulness meditation has been shown by many studies to help with feelings of anxiety and depression. It can actually reprogram the way your body responds to stress.
Look for mindfulness meditation classes in your community. You can also find guided meditations online, such as at the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center or BuddhaNet (And of course, there are several great tutorials on Wikihow.)
You don’t have to commit a huge amount of time to meditation to see its effects. Just a few minutes a day can help you become more aware and accepting of your emotions.
3. Identify whether your inner monologue is an optimist or a pessimist. Our inner monologue is a great indicator of whether we naturally take a positive or negative outlook on life. Pay attention to your inner monologue over the course of a day and see if any of the following forms of negative self-talk (that is, your inner monologue) are appearing regularly:
Magnifying the negative aspects of a situation and filtering out all of the positive ones.
Automatically blaming yourself for any negative situation or event.
Anticipating the worst in any given situation. The drive-through coffee shop gets your order wrong and you automatically think that the rest of your day will be a disaster.
You see things only as good or bad (also known as polarization). In your eyes, there is no middle ground.
4. Look for the positives in your life. It’s important to re-orient your inner monologue to focus on the positive aspects of both you as an individual and the world around you. Although positive thinking is only one of the steps towards becoming a true optimist, the effects of positive thinking for both your body and mind can be significant, such as:
Increased life span
Lower rates of depression
Lower levels of distress
Improved immune system
Better psychological and physical well-being
Reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease
Better coping skills during hardships and times of stress
Some of these situations I witness first hand, especially depression. But, now I have a renewed mindset and better control of knowing I can’t worry about things out of my control. Daily, it is good to speak positive affirmations and surround yourself with positive people. I hope that these tips have helped you a lot as it has for me.