10 Tips for Developing a More Optimistic Attitude
- 10 Tips for Developing a More Optimistic Attitude
- Tip 1: Understand that Your Perception of Events Do Not Fully Reflect Reality
- Tip 2: Consider the Impact of Your Attitude on Others
- Tip 3: See Your Challenges as Opportunities to Learn
- Tip 4: Practice Gratitude and Appreciation
- Tip 5: Breathe
- Tip 6: Forgive and Move On
- Tip 7: Handle Stress With a Solutions-Oriented Approach
- Tip 8: Stay Open and Keep Your Mind Flexible
- Tip 9: Spend Some Time on Activities That Make You Laugh
- Tip 10: Reflect on the Bigger Picture
Are you slouching in your chair right now? Are standing with your head faced down? Or, are your lying down feeling depressed? Sit up or stand straight, raise your head, straighten your back and make your best effort to smile right now. If you’re finding it difficult to smile, try holding a pen in your mouth. Now, hold that smile for a while…. Yeah, that’s it. Now, take a deep breath. How do you feel? If you were able to perform that brief exercise, you should feel a little lighter and more at ease.
Our attitudes are basically the way we see life, the way we perceive events and how these views or perceptions reflect in our reactions and our behaviours. In other words, life and reality in general are perceived differently and uniquely by each and every one of us. A cup half-filled with water can be interpreted to be either half-full or half-empty depending on a person’s attitude.
You have to understand that your attitude greatly determines your productivity, your ability to enjoy your relationships, your ability to learn, and ultimately the richness of your life. Many of us have heard the popular expression: “Attitude determines altitude.” This is true. While a pessimistic and narrow attitude can result in self-sabotage and depression, an optimistic and expansive attitude can result in positive energy and a self-fulfilling dynamic. Let’s take a look at some useful tips for developing an optimistic mindset:
Tip 1: Understand that Your Perception of Events Do Not Fully Reflect Reality
The world is as it is. Events take place and the universe as we know it is currently expanding. Seasons come and go. So-called tragedies happen and are quickly forgotten. The earth still rotates around its axis and revolves around the sun. There are causes and effects but there are really no good or bad events. We are the ones who interpret events as positive or negative and by so doing, we create our own reality. Realize that you can either choose to add or subtract color from your life with the attitude you choose to adopt.
Tip 2: Consider the Impact of Your Attitude on Others
When we are anxious, we tend to infect others with our anxiety. To help you make a commitment towards adopting a more positive outlook, consider the impact a pessimistic attitude usually has on people around. If people around you complain a lot, you will tend to complain as well and focus on the things to complain about. On the other hand, positive people are more fun to be around and infect others around them with their positive energy. To hone your inner optimist, it helps to think about what effect you want to have on people around you.
In any team work, the team dynamic is greatly influenced by the attitudes of the members. When the aggregate attitude is positive and progressive, work can be done much more effectively and in an innovative manner. In your daily activities, try to smile more and don’t worry too much about people who see smiles as suspicious. Chances are if you hold your smile long enough, they will contact it too. At worst, they’ll wonder what’s wrong with you. Either way, your impact will be positive. Plus, you’re more attractive when you smile.
Tip 3: See Your Challenges as Opportunities to Learn
In order to become more optimistic, you have to realize that your attitude is a powerful tool for influencing your behaviour and moving yourself in a productive direction. Every generation has examples of people who overcame abject poverty where others gave up and gave in to depression.
Remember the growth mindset sees challenges as opportunities to learn, grow and improve and optimists tend to believe that they can overcome negative events with their efforts and abilities. When you see life as more of an adventure and yourself as an explorer, you will be more inclined to try new things and learn from your experiences as well as the challenges you face along the way. As a baby step, you can pick one area in your life where you need improvement and focus on it over the next few weeks. Over time, you will start to develop your inner resilience and confidence.
Tip 4: Practice Gratitude and Appreciation
Pessimism often stems from a learned inability to see and appreciate the things that one ought to be grateful for. For a start, consider the fact that you get to have access to the Internet and are able to access a webpage such as this one on the web. Some people don’t even know what it means to be online. If you open your eyes, you will find other things to be grateful for. It is always recommended to make a list of some of the things you have that make life easier and better for you.
Resist the urge to complain about the things that are “bad” and avoid comparing yourself to others. When we engage in incessant comparisons with others, we end up downplaying ourselves and the things we’re fortunate to have. Think about people who probably have it worse. Better still, think about what your life would be like without the some of the things you have now. Fight the tendency to think that the good things in life are “givens”. Also, it also helps to watch your language and see if you can modify negative words like “impossible” to something like “not currently attainable”.
Tip 5: Breathe
Many minor worries or persistent thoughts can disappear when you simply take a few deep breaths. Focusing on your breath helps you come back to yourself and your environment. We tend to spend a lot of time thinking about the past and future that we forget to really experience the present. When you’re feeling very anxious, it helps to take some deep breaths and relax in the moment.
Tip 6: Forgive and Move On
Have you made a mistake in the past? It’s okay. Just, forgive yourself and move on. Has someone previously wronged or hurt you? Take a deep breath and try to let go of the resenting injury. Depending on the level of resentment, this might be easier said than done. However, when we cling to such feelings, we trap ourselves and hurt ourselves the more. Also, it helps to not take what people do or say personally.
When we extend forgiveness to ourselves and others, it shows we have the power and control over our reactions to events, irrespective of their origin. Don’t allow people to reflect their “many” problems onto you or infect you with their negative energy. Show empathy with some emotional detachment. Be patient with yourself and others. Besides, time has a way of healing wounds and making some problems go away.
Tip 7: Handle Stress With a Solutions-Oriented Approach
When we experience stress, it is often easier to look for ways to change or reduce the negative emotions associated with stress. These efforts may include avoiding, minimizing, or distancing oneself from the problem, or positive comparisons with others. While this can be helpful in the short-term, a different strategy is usually more helpful for the long-term.
According to psychologists, in problem-focused coping, one attempts to manage or alter the problem that is causing one to experience stress. Problem-focused coping strategies are similar to strategies used in everyday problem-solving. They typically involve identifying the problem, considering possible solutions, weighing the costs and benefits of these solutions, and then selecting an alternative.
For the purpose of this article, let’s rephrase the problem-focused coping strategy as a solutions-oriented approach. When an optimist is experiencing stress in school for instance, instead of avoiding the problem by choosing to spend time on Twitter, he or she will instead look for potential solutions to the problem which could be choosing to seek help in difficult areas, creating a study plan and cutting off unnecessary activities. An optimist sees problems as having solutions that require some time and research to be found.
Tip 8: Stay Open and Keep Your Mind Flexible
To develop your inner optimist, it also helps to keep an open and flexible mind. Remember as we have mentioned earlier that your perceptions of the world are unique to you. Therefore, your ideas, beliefs or ways of doing of things are not superior to those of others. You can always learn something new from a different person, experience or culture.
This mindset will help you communicate better and understand people better. With a more rounded and open view of the world and those around you, you will be better able to set realistic expectations of yourself and others.
Tip 9: Spend Some Time on Activities That Make You Laugh
You are hereby given permission to laugh! Don’t worry, no one will know. You can find a book, movie or some other activity that you usually find humorous. Find a hilarious show to enjoy or try to reach out to someone who knows how to make you laugh. Make an effort to find some good laughter each day. You can also try to develop your own sense of humor by not taking yourself so seriously all the time and by finding some humour in your everyday activities. This is one of the best ways to stay positive and upbeat. Also, try to engage in exercise to help you let off steam, stay healthy and keep your energy levels up.
Tip 10: Reflect on the Bigger Picture
It also helps to occasionally zoom out your perspective. Consider the colossal universe and how small earth is in comparison to the space that is out there. That thought is enough to humble you in a positive way and help you put many things into perspective. Reflect on the concept of time and it’s relativity to our experience. Physicists assert that time is an illusion. Einstein called it a “stubborn illusion”. Time is relative and events do not actually happen in the linear fashion that we tend to persistently and subjectively perceive.
You are physically matter, made up of atoms and molecules, one out of billions of human beings who share 99.9 percent of your DNA living on a relatively big planet that is small in comparison with the massive and expanding universe in which it exists. Now, this fact should not make you feel small. Instead, it should you help you appreciate your very existence. As a matter of fact, the set of possible people allowed by our DNA so massively exceeds the set of actual people that you should consider yourself lucky to be alive.
So, breathe…. Now, smile… Do not underestimate the power of your attitude. You’ll be fine.