Ways to Cultivate Optimism Each Day
Do you consider yourself to be brimming with optimism?
If the water in your glass hovers around the midway point, would you tend to describe it as being half-full or half-empty?
Do you tend to see the positive, even in trying situations?
Or do you immediately assume the worst and focus on the negative?
You might be surprised to hear that optimism is not an innate quality.
It’s not something we’re born with.
But it is a habit, and as such can be developed like any other habit.
Optimism and pessimism are ways of looking at yourself and the world through a positive or negative filter.
It very easily could be a trait that you learned as a baby or a small child from the environment you grew up in.
But it is something we have control over, and something we can change.
When we focus on positive states, we actually change the brain.
We create new neural pathways or habitual patterns of emotional stability, competence, positivity, contentment, and even joy – things that are consistent with longevity and good health outcomes.
Once you understand that your optimism is a reflection of your mindset, it becomes much easier to believe you can change.
Like any new behavior, you need to practice every day for it to become a habit.
I have some suggestions to cultivate your optimism every day.
Be aware of your thoughts and feelings.
Where do you put your attention?
Spend some time just with yourself to reflect about how your day went and what you can learn about your mind.
Once you identify thoughts, feelings, and memories that upset you, work to resolve them.
Practice saying nice things to yourself and refraining from habitual self-criticism.
Keep a journal
Journaling or keeping a diary allows you to dig even deeper into and process events and to get a different perspective on them.
It encourages self-reflection and captures insights into your thinking and behavior.
You can write down what happened during your day and document, not just the bald facts… but how you did it, what you did to make it happen and what you did right.
And, importantly, how it felt while you were doing it.
Don’t just record the good things (a promotion, a presentation or meeting that went well).
Remember to write down the things that didn’t go so well and reflect on what happened, how you dealt with it, and what you might do differently next time.
Consciously notice the funny side of things and write them down.
Maybe the technology didn’t work, and you had to give the presentation without the slide deck, or the power went out, or there was a fire drill in the middle of your crucial meeting…
What can seem like a disaster at the time can also be looked back on as a comedy of errors.
Write to your future
Write a letter or a journal entry that sets out the future you want.
What job are you doing?
Are you running your own business?
What have you learned?
What has changed?
Imagining how your future life looks and feels can be a powerful motivator.
Keep a kindness list
Have a page in your journal where you note down kind gestures.
Write down when you are kind to someone, or when someone is kind to you.
Even little things count, like opening a door for someone or letting them go first in the line for coffee.
You’ll be surprised at how quickly they mount up, and your ever-lengthening list will give you a different perspective on things.
Keep a memory box
I have a memory box that I keep everything important in.
It has notes I’ve received from people, newspaper articles that I’ve been featured in, recognition I’ve received from Avon, special cards I’ve received…
All kinds of things.
When I’m feeling sad, I pull out that box and it just picks me up when I go through the memories in there.
As the end of the year – or the end of the month – draws to a close, look back over your gratitude notes to be reminded of all of the good things that happened to you throughout the year.
Say thank you
Write a letter or email, phone or visit someone (a person outside your family) who has been genuinely kind to you.
Or, send a card telling them how important that are to you.
Tell them how much you appreciate what they did or said and how it has affected your life.
Make the positive choice to develop and maintain an optimistic outlook.
Do this every morning when you wake up.
Decide that today is going to be a great day.
As soon as you wake up, start thinking about what you want to accomplish with the expectation that it will actually happen.
Everyone will have some level of suffering in their life.
Choosing to be optimistic will make it easier to bounce back from the bad times and to enjoy and be certain of the good times.
So now I’d love to hear from you.
Are you an optimistic person?
Is the glass always half-full for you or half-empty?
What helps you be more positive and optimistic?
Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
I would love to hear your stories.
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