Optimistic people live happier, healthier, and more successful lives. However, optimism is not something that you are born with. Being optimistic is a skill that you can learn. In this article, I will share with you my 10 ways to be more optimistic. Once you learn and apply these strategies, you will experience the amazing benefits of optimism for yourself.
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What is Optimism?
Optimism is feeling hopeful. It’s looking forward to the future and believing that your future will be better than the present. Pessimists are often fearful about the future. They’re afraid of bad things that could happen to them. They believe that the future will be worse than today. As a result, they feel anxious, depressed, or miserable.
Why is it Important to be Optimistic?
Here are some excellent reasons to learn the ways to be more optimistic:
Optimistic people are happier, more joyful, and more cheerful. They are better to be around.
Optimistic people are high-achievers. They see more opportunities and try more things. They accomplish their goals faster and are more successful in life. They are more persistent. They stick with their goals for longer because they believe that they will have a successful outcome.
Optimists deal better with disappointments. In the back of their minds, they have a strong feeling that the future will work out well. They can handle disappointments because they know they are temporary.
Optimistic people rarely experience depression and depressive episodes. They also have a lot less anxiety. You can only be anxious when you think negatively about the future. With an optimistic and positive view, the future looks bright and better than the present.
Think about the things you are not doing right now because you don’t believe they will work. Well, that’s a form of pessimism.
The 4 Parts to Optimism
There are 4 parts to optimism. These are:
- Thoughts – thinking that your future will be good and pleasant in some way
- Imagination – imagining that your future will be better than the present
- Energy – feeling hopeful and excited about your future
- Action – acting as if you are getting a desirable outcome in the future
The 10 Ways to Be More Optimistic
Now that you know what optimism is and what its benefits are, I will cover 10 ways that will help you to be more optimistic.
1. Contain the Problem to a Small Area
Let’s say you’re about to go on holiday with your family. You arrive at the airport, and your flight is delayed by four hours.
How would an optimistic person deal with this? They might be a little disappointed or annoyed. But they would probably think or say something like:
- It’s only a flight.
- I’m still excited about going on holiday.
- I’m happy to be with my family.
- It’s just a bad start, but everything will be okay.
A pessimistic person would say:
- This is so frustrating.
- We’ll be hanging around at the airport for hours.
- We might miss the connecting flight, and if we miss it, we’ll get to the hotel really late, miss dinner and all the good rooms will be taken.
- We’re all going to be stressed out and emotional.
- It’s a terrible start, and everything will go downhill from here.
Can you see how a pessimistic person is making this flight delay negatively affect the whole holiday? A key to being more optimistic is to contain any setback, challenge or problem to one area of life and not let it affect anything else.
2. Forgive and Let Go
When something happens that makes you feel pessimistic or negative, know that you can look at the situation differently. You can change your perspective.
Also, let go of any negative emotions, such as anger, frustration, disappointment, or sadness. A great way to release negative emotions is to use the Sedona Method.
Forgive yourself for things you did or didn’t do in the past. And then learn to forgive others. Forgive others so you and your life can move forward. When you have a grudge against someone else, it negatively affects your life by thinking about it. So, it makes little sense to hold on to any resentment or grudge against another person. So learn to forgive others, so you can free yourself of these negative emotions.
3. List 30 Things That Make You Excited
This one came from Leo at Actualized.org. He recommends making a list of 30 things that you’re excited about, which are likely to happen in the next year. These could be things like vacations, promotions at work, or getting rid of debts. Also, starting a new business or losing weight.
Leo also suggests paying attention to how you feel before writing these down. After writing them down, see if your feelings have changed. You’ll notice that you are more excited, engaged, motivated, and more optimistic.
4. Get a Good Night’s Sleep
When I have a bad night’s sleep, I find it much harder to be optimistic and positive. I also react more emotionally without thinking. It’s because your brain goes back to a familiar set-point when you’re tired. You’ve been working on yourself for a while, and you’ve become more optimistic. After a bad night’s sleep, your brain may go back to what’s familiar – your old pessimistic self.
So how do you deal with this? Firstly, acceptance. Just accept that you will not be as positive and optimistic as you usually are. Secondly, take a power nap if you can. Close your eyes and have a little nap for up to 20 minutes. I’ve done this on many occasions, and it’s had a huge effect on my level of optimism and positivity.
5. Consult Your Inner Coach
Think about a setback, frustration, disappointment, or anything that makes you feel pessimistic. Then imagine your favorite self-help or personal development expert in the room with you. What would they say to help you? What questions might they ask you? What advice would they give you? What might they do in the same situation? Then imagine taking their advice and acting as if you are that person.
6. Perceive the Event as Temporary
When something frustrating happens, pessimistic people see it as long-term and permanent. Optimistic people see it as temporary.
Let’s go back to that 4-hour flight delay example. Once on the plane, an optimistic person will forget about the delay and focus on enjoying the holiday. A pessimistic person will still think about it and how it will negatively affect the holiday.
Or, let’s say you lose your job. An optimistic person would say:
- These things happen.
- I’m confident I’ll get a new job.
- It’s good to make a change.
A pessimistic person might say:
- I’m never going to find a new job.
- Things will never be the same again.
- My life is ruined.
A pessimistic person sees this one event permanently affecting the rest of their life. They lack a positive and optimistic view of the future. This will influence the action they’ll take. A pessimistic person is more likely to give up and fall into some kind of depression. An optimistic person will probably look forward to applying for new jobs.
7. Identify Your Role
It’s crucial to identify your role in the situation correctly. Let’s go back to that 4-hour flight delay. An optimistic person would say:
- There is nothing I can do about it.
- These things just happen.
A pessimistic person would personalize it in some way. They would say:
- Why did I choose this airline?
- Why am I always on flights that are delayed?
In response to losing their job, an optimistic person might say:
- These things happen.
- People lose jobs, especially when the economy changes.
A pessimistic person might say things like:
- I’m not good enough.
- Younger people are better than me.
- I don’t fit in anymore with this company or culture.
Let’s say that these two people get a new job. The optimistic person might think “Great! I worked hard, and I deserve this new job”.
A more pessimistic person might think “The company needed someone. I just happened to be there. There was no one else available”.
There’s quite a difference here. An optimistic person believes that they took action to get that job. A pessimistic person thinks it just happened, with little action on their part. They didn’t take responsibility for their success.
That’s a key difference – an optimistic person takes responsibility and takes action.
8. Acknowledge What Went Well
I recommend doing this daily. Ask yourself 2 questions:
What did I do well today? List all the things you did well. These are situations where you took some positive action. You took responsibility for them turning out well. When you focus on this consistently, it will help increase your level of optimism. And this will grow your self-confidence because you’re focusing on the things that you can do rather than the things you can’t.
What went well? This question refers more to the fluky things that are outside your control. Sometimes great things just happen. It’s good to appreciate and be grateful for these. You can take this further. Acknowledge what’s good about your life and list all the things that you usually take for granted. Create a gratitude journal. The more you focus on what works well in your life, the more you’ll feel optimistic.
9. Focus on Small Changes
What can you do today to improve your life? It doesn’t matter if it’s something small. The key is to take responsibility. Pessimists often believe that they are helpless. They blame others. However, you can do more than you think. We always have a choice of how to think and how to act. So, what can you do to make any situation better for yourself? By taking positive action, you will almost always feel better.
10. Ask “What Else Could This Mean?”
The way we perceive situations that happen to us is one of the fundamental ways to be more optimistic.
When something happens, our brain comes up with a meaning based on our previous experiences. And the brain can be lazy. The way to get around this is to ask “what else could this mean?” List 5 other meanings that you could give to that same situation.
For example, in my 20s, I missed out on a promotion. I was quite resentful about it for a few days. And then I went for a long walk and thought about it. I came up with a few different meanings.
- By not being promoted, I could continue doing a job that I was comfortable with and feel confident doing.
- The new job could be more challenging and out of my comfort zone.
- It also made me think about moving my career in a different direction which I ultimately did!
Think about any disappointing situation that happened to you and ask yourself “what else could this mean?” Remember, the only meaning this has is the meaning you give it.
So these were my 10 ways to help you be more optimistic. Take action and apply them to your own life! Then see yourself becoming more optimistic and less pessimistic. Remember that optimism is a skill that you can learn and develop. Your life is in your hands!
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