How and Why to Reap the Benefits of Optimism
We all have that friend who is aggressively positive and optimistic, no matter how dire the circumstances. They break their collarbone, puncture their lungs and shatter their humerus in a skiing accident, yet they still find things to smile about. Maybe that is something you’ve wished you could do, rather than scowling into a half empty coffee cup. But, look on the bright side—you can! Optimism isn’t something you’re born with. You can actually learn how to be more optimistic.
The brain is incredibly malleable, and with a few practiced habits and small changes, embracing positivity can become a part of your lifestyle too! Here are a few ways to get started:
Keep a journal of positivity. Everyday, scribble down a few positive aspects of your day/environment/life in a specific journal. It doesn’t have to be a huge thing every day. Even if you’ve had a really bummer day, there is definitely something good that happened. It can just be a sentence, like, I got to wake up and snuggle with a puppy this morning and it was the best part of my day. Or, my house is so warm and cozy and I am so glad I don’t have to be outside today. Start noticing the good things that surround you and the world will begin to look brighter.
Surround yourself with positive people. You know that friend who is always complaining about something? As much as you may care about them, negativity can easily leach from one person to another. Stop absorbing other people’s negative energies. It helps no one. Politely limit your time with them, especially as you are trying to transition your own mindset. Seek out more time with people that make you feel great about yourself. We tend to adopt the qualities of the three people we hang out with most often, so choose well.
Do a positivity circuit. Much as you would push yourself through a round of push-ups and crunches, take 10 to 30 minutes every day to do a positivity circuit. Is there a song that makes you feel fantastic? Is there a tranquil park bench you love to sit at? Do you like to dance around in your underwear and lip sync? Make positive exercises a part of your day as often as possible. Infuse your life with as much external positivity as you can. Eventually, it will seep deep and and your outlook will become infused with optimism.
Go easy on yourself. Optimism doesn’t mean always smiling. If you’re going through a tough time, being optimistic doesn’t mean you foolishly grin throughout. Be mindful that you are a flawed human. You are going to screw up. You are going to get upset. But, the key to optimism is what happens after you have that breakdown. Will you be able to see the sun rising over the horizon? Or will you just burrow deeper into the darkness? The ability to bounce back after a setback is crucial to maintaining a positive outlook. It may be tough, but be patient and loving with yourself. You are re-training your mind, and that takes time, love and patience. You can do it.
Optimism isn’t just good for your mind and energy levels. A Harvard study showed that women who were more optimistic had:
- a 16 percent lower risk of dying from cancer
- a 38 percent lower risk of dying from heart disease
- a 39 percent lower risk of dying from stroke
- and a 52 percent lower risk of dying from infection
Being more positive has endless benefits. Even if you’ve been a salty pessimist your entire life, adopting a brighter outlook can help you shape a greater life than you could have ever imagined. Positive energy is a powerful thing, and we all have access to it. All you have to do is open yourself up.