Studies have shown that optimists are happier, healthier, more relaxed, and more resilient. They are better at coping with stress, achieving their goals, and persevering during challenging times.
They even have a longer lifespan and more successful relationships. If you’d like to reap the benefits that an optimistic outlook brings, here are seven ways you can be more positive and optimistic.
1. Challenge Your Negative Thoughts and Assumptions
If you’d like to become more positive and optimistic, you should start by challenging your negative thoughts and assumptions.
According to positive psychologist Bridget Grenville-Cleave, “Research has found that optimists and pessimists have different explanatory styles. Optimists attribute the cause of negative events and experiences to external, specific, and transient factors, whereas pessimists do the opposite; they attribute their cause to internal, global, and permanent factors.”
For example, if a coworker frowned during your presentation at a staff meeting, a pessimist might think, “That person doesn’t like me or value what I have to say.” While an optimist might think, “That person must just be having a bad day.”
Negative situations don’t have to be permanent, and negative interactions are not always personal. We can’t assume that we are the center of someone else’s universe and form judgments without any facts. So, the next time you find yourself assuming the worst about a person or situation, try thinking of evidence that counters your negative belief. As you brainstorm alternative optimistic explanations for an event or interaction, you may find that there is more evidence to support a positive judgment.
2. Look for the Good in People
It’s easy to be cynical about people if we focus on their bad habits and dwell on the worst things that they have ever done. But, we wouldn’t want to be defined by our negative qualities or lowest moments. We should give others that same courtesy.
To look always at the good and not at the bad. If a man has ten good qualities and one bad one, to look at the ten and forget the one; and if a man has ten bad qualities and one good one, to look at the one and forget the ten.”
As we practice looking for the good in people, we train our minds to think more positively and improve our perceptions of other people.
3. Be Thankful for the Good Things That Happen Every Day
In addition to noticing the good qualities in other people, we need to also notice and be grateful for the good moments that happen every day.
Negativity and pessimism prevent us from enjoying the present moment and appreciating what is important in life. Cultivating an attitude of gratitude puts us in a more positive mood and optimistic mindset to enjoy life’s blessings.
4. Surround Yourself With Positive People
It will be hard to create a more optimistic outlook if everyone around you is a pessimist. Diseases in the world of bodies are extremely contagious, so, in the same way, qualities of spirit and heart are extremely contagious.
Today, scientists use the term “emotional contagion” to refer to this rapid spread of emotions and behaviors. A 2016 article in the U.S. News and World Report even stated that “emotions can be transmitted more easily than colds or flu – faster than the blink of an eye!” You become like the people you hang around the most, so you may want to choose friends that have the mindset and qualities that you would like to develop.
5. Accept What You Can and Can’t Control
Many of you may have heard this line from the Serenity Prayer: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things that I can; and wisdom to know the difference.”
Too often, we waste time ruminating on the past and what we can’t control instead of channeling our energy to create positive change. For example, you can’t control not getting the job offer you wanted, but you can control your efforts, which will increase your chances of getting hired at a better company.
It is also important not to confuse optimism with denial of serious problems or harsh realities.
A combination of optimism and realistic thinking helps people navigate through life. Realistic thinking does not mean never seeing the bright side of life; no problem. It’s simply a way to support your optimism with action steps so you can create a positive future instead of getting caught up in fantasy.
6. Focus on What You Want
To create a positive future, we need to have faith, be clear about what we want, and focus and joyfully visualize what we want to attract into our lives.
We often visualize the future in a negative way and tend to anticipate events that may not even happen. We continually worry about what might happen and we focus on a reality that is not real, which implies that we experience feelings that are not real either.
When this happens, our attention and energy are invested in assumptions instead of being where life really happens: in the present moment. It is useless to anticipate the facts. It is only in the here and now that we can take action and resolve, one by one, the situations that we are facing. Surrender to the present moment.
7. Seek learning
Everything, absolutely everything, happens for a reason. Integrating this into your way of thinking is essential when dealing with any situation that arises. It is positive to think that the things that happen to us are neither good nor bad, they are perfect , because everything that happens to us always brings learning that will allow us to transcend difficulties and thus grow as people. Welcome the obstacles that you find on the way because they are opportunities to get to know yourself and prepare for what you have to live with.
Becoming an optimistic and positive person will definitely uplift you. Remember, that an important part of optimism is believing that you can make positive changes in this world and having faith that everything will work out for the best.