Do you prefer to see the positive (being an optimist), even in trying conditions? Or do you believe the worst automatically and concentrate on the negative? A lot of us fall into one of two groups regarding how we see the world: optimist or pessimist. According to experts, whatever group you fall under has a lot to do with your upbringing.
“From my experience, optimism is both a characteristic of personality and a consequence of our climate,” says a licensed psychotherapist, Karol Ward, LCSW. “Children tend to pick up the emotional vibes in their homes from an early age. If the environment is calm and caring, even if they have an unconscious inclination towards fear, children bloom.
Hope is one of the first things to go if the home atmosphere is tense and fraught with dysfunction. When your caregivers don’t model it for you, it’s difficult to be emotionally open and hopeful.” However, your upbringing is not necessarily to blame if you accept yourself as someone who tends to default to the negative.
Studies indicate that optimism is about 25 percent inheritable, and other variables impact our positivity, which is mostly out of our control, such as socioeconomic status. But that still leaves a substantial amount of wiggle room for us as adults to build a more positive outlook. So, if you’re someone who, in a given situation, tends to see the negative, there is hope.
“Some people are positive by birth, but many of us learn optimism as well. The key is to find purpose in work and life,” says Leah Weiss, Ph.D., a Stanford professor specializing in workplace mindfulness. Everyone can learn to be optimistic. We feel more satisfied and better able to see the glass ‘half full’ when we work with purpose or live with purpose.
Who is an optimist?
An optimist is a person who is willing to be hopeful and to expect promising outcomes regardless of the situation. Positive thought carries a whole host of advantages with it, such as better well-being and better sleep. Check out these 11 ways of being an optimist to start reaping these benefits:
Creating some optimistic mantras
While many of us believe that our happiness is focused on external things or lack thereof, we are usually the ones who hold ourselves back. Many of us go through our days feeding ourselves with derogatory messages that we might not even be aware of, telling ourselves that we are “not good enough,” “not smart enough,” or “not beautiful enough.”
You need to change these messages and begin to think more positively. Try to watch out for negative feelings and replace them with positive words that pop into your brain.
Concentrate on your success
Most of us are delighted to recognize the achievements and successes of other people. Nonetheless, when it comes to our own, we always play them down or neglect them altogether. You need to remind yourself frequently about what you have and will do in order to start thinking more positively about yourself. Stop listening to your inner criticism, focus on your previous successes, and begin to truly appreciate your achievements and what you have to offer.
Have a role model
It will help to find yourself a good role model if you want to become an optimist. Think of the calmest, and happy person that you know, whether it’s a colleague, good friend, or even a celebrity. Experiment and try to take a stroll in their shoes for the next few weeks. “Whenever negativity begins to slip in, or you are in a tough situation, think:” What will you do (insert the name of the optimist chosen)? Honestly respond, then try to follow suit.
Concentrate on the positives
It’s important to note that it’s not events themselves that make us unhappy, it’s our perception and reaction to them, and you can change your response even while you can’t always change the circumstances. Try to reframe them as adverse events arise by reflecting on the positives or what you might learn from the case.
Maybe you’ve gained inner strength and endurance, become closer to a friend or learn more about yourself by sharing your heartbreak. Do your best to reflect on what you have achieved and gained rather than what you have missed from your experience.
Don’t try to predict the future
An optimist prefers to perceive each occurrence as an isolated case when things do not go well in life, whereas a pessimist often look for lousy luck trends and believe “if it happens once, it’ll happen again.” Nevertheless, based on what has happened before, it is essential not to predict the future. Know that the failure of a plan or relationship does not make you a failure, and it does not mean it will happen again just because something disappointing has happened once (or more).
Surround yourself with positivity
A sure-fire way to ensure that you continue to feel pessimistic is to spend time with negative people who regularly see the bad in any situation. You need to surround yourself with positive-minded individuals to help you remain motivated, allowing you to see the good in circumstances and life in general. This often relates to other factors in your life, such as music, literature, and movies, and surrounding yourself with positive factors, as well as seeing the impact it has on your state of mind.
Keep an appreciation diary
It never fails to escape our notice when something unpleasant arises. The alarm clock does not go off, or your car does not start, leaving you for the rest of the day in a bad mood. How often do you stop and remember all those moments when your alarm clock has gone off or your car has started?
Make a deliberate effort to shift your attention and thinking and start focusing on all the things that go well. You have to show appreciation by keeping a gratitude journal every morning or night, listing all the things you need to be grateful for that day.
Challenge negative thoughts
Sometimes, our negative thoughts are based on nothing more than our worries, suspicions, and low self-esteem. You need to actively question your negative feelings to help you resolve them. The next time you start feeling pessimistic, write down your feelings, then write down your reasons for these thoughts and against them.
Ask yourself what the proof is that these ideas are true? What’s the evidence that they are not? You might also attempt to behave the opposite of how you feel and see what happens deliberately. You may find that your pessimistic predictions are not coming true.
Concentrating on the solution instead of the problem
A pessimist prefers to dwell on issues while an optimist will hunt for answers. Although living in your concerns or disappointments is tempting, note that this will not alter your situation. The circumstance does not feel great, and it may not seem fair, but whether you like it or not, what has happened has happened. Let go of regrets and negative feelings, get positive, and start planning where you will go from here, rather than dwelling on what should have been.
Optimism isn’t something that comes to all of us automatically, and you may find that changing your attitude takes time. Try to put the action before the emotion and fake a more optimistic attitude in the meantime. Studies have indicated that it is possible to trick yourself into feeling better by going through physical gestures.
So, instead of going with your natural inclination, try smiling and laughing more and speaking in a more optimistic tone. On the way to being an optimist, behaving the way you want to feel would motivate you.
Don’t live in the past
What is gone is gone, and the most important thing is how you cope with the consequences. There is no point of fault distribution, either on yourself or others. You have the authority to alter a scenario and move forward. With the advantage of hindsight, it is so easy to say, ‘I should have done things differently.’ If bad things have occurred, look at tomorrow as just what it is — a new day — in which, if you let them, good things will happen.
Reasons you should think like an optimist
The reasons include the following:
An optimist live longer
Studies have consistently related optimism, overall health, and longevity. There are lower rates of hypertension, heart disease, and even cancer risk among positive thinkers, as well as lower mortality rates in general. The emphasis of an optimist on taking care of themselves should influence these health factors.
An optimist prefers to exercise more, sleep more, eat healthily, and refrain from smoking (but whether these habits are motivated by optimism or vice versa is not sure). One major study released in 2019 found that an optimist has a life span of 11% to 15% longer than expected and are more likely to live up to 85 years of age or older.
An optimist has a better love life
According to Stanford University researchers, an optimist has higher quality and longer-lasting intimate relationships. Perhaps when only one partner is an optimist, these outcomes hold. Psychologists think optimism contributes to a greater sense of a partner’s perceived support, which allows couples to function equally.
Both positive thinkers and their partners were more likely to suggest that the other partner was involved in making the partnership stronger when asked about a contention point in the relationship. This would result in a greater dispute resolution.
Other research suggests that the more we idealize our partners, the happier we are in our relationships. Another study found that cooperative problem-solving linked to optimism is part of what makes romantic relationships positive and optimistic. An optimist will also help their partners be healthier and more confident.
An optimist is more prosperous
Just as an optimist tends to be more resilient outside of the workplace, they are often resourceful on the job. Even if their managers don’t realize that they’re doing a good job, an optimist will eventually recover and continue to perform well. A 2019 study suggested that more optimistic participants also appear to have better job security than less happy employees. This improved safety can even result in increased optimism.
Moreover, individuals who feel optimistic about their profession are more likely to succeed and feel comfortable with their jobs. There are numerous explanations for this, including that an optimist that is viewed to be more charismatic is more likely to be persistent until their goal is accomplished
They find it a lot easier to shake off a bad result so that it does not affect them in their next attempt. In encouraging others to be efficient and to achieve their goals, optimistic managers can be more successful.
An optimist bounce back faster and stronger
Coaches instructed athletes to swim in their best event in a popular analysis of elite college varsity swim teams (published in 1990). Coaches got misleading feedback on the results during the races, adding a few seconds to the results. This gap was small enough to be credible but wide enough to lead the swimmers to disappointment.
They were then given a half-hour to rest and, possibly, ruminate and then replay the event about the loss they had just witnessed. Negative thinkers swam, on average, 1.6 percent lower than their first attempt in their second attempt.
However, the hopeful thinkers swam 0.5 percent quicker than before. The discrepancy between the optimists and the pessimists was the difference between winning and losing an event in swimming’s competitive world.
As it turns out, an optimist could potentially use failure as a means to do better in the future. Additional studies on high-level athletes (wrestlers in this case) indicate that optimism helps safeguard them from burnout.
An optimist take fewer sick days
Individuals with greater levels of subjective well-being, a mentality that can involve optimism, have better immune systems, and even experience faster-wound healing than those with lower levels of well-being.
In a 2017 study that helped improve psychological well-being by teaching older people how to “identify and enjoy meaningful experiences,” participants decreased their rates of depression, as well as physical symmetry.
Optimism can be taught, as much of this research demonstrates. You should work to grow it if you’re not already blessed with it. Then you, too, can enjoy the advantages of being an optimist.