A lot of people feel like they’re victims in life, and they’ll often point to past events, perhaps growing up with an abusive parent or in a dysfunctional family. Most psychologists believe that about 85 per cent of families are dysfunctional, so all of a sudden you’re not so unique. My parents were alcoholics. My dad abused me. My mother divorced him when I was six…I mean, that’s almost everybody’s story in some form or not. The real question is, what are you going to do now? What do you choose now? Because you can either keep focusing on that, or you can focus on what you want. And when people start focusing on what they want, what they don’t want falls away, and what they want expands, and the other part disappears. ~Jack Canfield
With every bad thing that happens to you, to your friends and the world at large, it’s very easy to fall into the pits. Nothing is fair about this life, and there’s nothing that you will ever do about it. That’s the hardest pill to swallow. The best you can do is learn to be optimistic about the situations that are presented before you. I’m sure you have met people who are ever complaining about one thing or the other. Believe me, if you are searching, you will find that in actual sense there is a lot to be negative about. However, what good does negativity do? Does it nourish your soul? Or change the situation at hand? All it does is increase your anxiety and eventually you become a bother to be around. So to answer Jack Canfield’s question in the quote above, I choose to be optimistic, and you should too.
Here are a few habits that will help you to become more optimistic.
- Start a gratitude journal
Journaling has very many positive effects, including the fact that it helps to put things into perspective. A gratitude journal is a journal where you list down all the things that you are grateful for. As human beings, we tend to take a lot of things for granted and this is why we develop a negative perspective towards life. There are some things that we look at as necessities and yet there’s someone out there who wouldn’t imagine them for the world. A gratitude journal will help to reframe your perspective towards life and by doing so, you will become more optimistic. In her book The Secret, Rhonda Bryne says that “It is impossible to bring more into your life if you are feeling ungrateful about what you have. Why? Because the thoughts and feelings you emit as you feel ungrateful are all negative emotions.” 10 ways to show gratitude #Asante
- Play a 30-second movie of your ideal day each morning
We all know that the way we start our day plays a big role in how we experience the rest of it. To cultivate an optimistic mindset, begin your day by visualizing. What will your ideal day look like? What will you achieve? How will you deal with the obstacles that might come your way? Doing this will instantly boost your mood and make you have a more optimistic mindset. It feels like you have a jump start to whatever comes your way. You can even set a reminder on your phone for this. It will transform the way you think about yourself, your potential, and your future.
- Be proactive rather than reactive
I learnt this practice in the book The Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. A lot of times we are quick to react to situations and this influences our energy negatively. For example, if someone yells at you for not doing something well, instead of sitting and thinking about what they have said, react. Do what was asked of you to turn the situation around. By doing so, you will realise that it positively impacts your mentality. In the long run, this will help you to become more positive about the things that happen to you, and hence make you optimistic.
If you are feeling low, then you might want to try and do some exercise. The best thing about this is that it can be done from the comfort of your home. There are several phone applications with home workouts that cater to different needs. Dopamine is the chemical that’s responsible for pleasure and happiness. It is released into the brain when you exercise. On top of this, to minimize the stress and discomfort brought about by exercising, our brain releases bursts of endorphin giving us a feeling that is close to euphoria.
- Serve others
You have probably heard the saying that there is more joy in giving than in receiving. There’s a lot of truth to this statement. If you ask many successful business people what drives them, they will tell you that it’s putting a smile on someone’s face and satisfying their customers. In other words, serving people helps you to become more optimistic. Think about it. There are very few but significant things you can do to uplift a person’s mood. For example, cooking for your family is a simple gesture of love and will help you to boost your mood and have an optimistic mindset. By focusing on helping others, we gain the added benefit of increasing our levels of happiness and optimism.
- Regulate your consumption of news
Let’s be honest. A lot of the stories we see on the news are sorrowful and sad situations. More often than not the media portrays an image of the bad outweighing the good, and that isn’t always the case. So one of the things that you might want to do to develop an optimistic attitude is to unplug from the news for a while. I’m not belittling the importance of keeping up with current affairs. All I’m saying is that if it is affecting your mental health then you might just need to regulate your consumption. This goes for social media as well. If it harms your mental health then it is time to unplug.
- Imitate an optimist
Who is the most optimistic person that you know? Whether it be a friend, relative or celebrity, imitating them is a sure way of increasing your optimism. What would they say? How would they react? An optimistic person is a reassuring person. When you go to them with problems they will help you to see the good side of them. This is the kind of person you need to identify and start to imitate. It’s the “fake it till you make it” rule. If you practice it enough times it will become a part of you.