Can We Train Ourselves To Become More Optimistic?

If someone were to ask me if I was an optimist or pessimist, I’d answer that I was a realist. I have a good attitude and try to look on the bright side but some of my experiences have left me a bit jaded. Studies show that being optimistic is healthier for us and that optimists actually live longer. I like to be around positive people (who doesn’t?) so becoming more optimistic seems like a good plan for the week.

Can I become an optimist? I know the power of thought is strong so can I shift my thoughts and create even more happiness in my life? Sounds good to me!

First, a little background on optimism…

Humans have something called “negativity bias” which basically means we tend to fixate on bad news. Not surprisingly, negative encounters leave stronger impressions on us so we tend to develop a bit of a selective memory concerning our failures and bad experiences (it’s also easier to form a bad opinion of a place or a person; something that makes sense when you think about it…I know I can be quick to make harsh judgements if I’m not careful).

All of this makes perfect sense but how do we change the patterns of thought that are already swimming around in our heads?

  • Plan- By staying organized, we can ensure our bases are covered and that things will run smoothly (the realist in me is screaming, “But what if they don’t?!” See the next bullet…
  • Banish fault and walk away with the lesson Ok, so sometimes, even with all the planning in the world, things still go wrong. Know that. Accept that. And really be OK with that. Create an environment for you and those around you that doesn’t fault people when things go wrong. Only when you and the people around you are comfortable taking risks, does the potential for really amazing things exist. When things don’t go according to plan, learn the lesson and make changes. No dwelling!
  • Change your thoughts and your language I used to have a quote in my classroom that I need to put up somewhere so I can read it everyday. “Thoughts become actions so choose good ones!” It’s even been scientifically proven that new patterns of thought can actually change the physiology of our brains. One way we can do this is by becoming alert to positive information. Next time someone compliments you, soak it up! Even random thoughts like, “the sun is shining” or “the coffee smells good,” are good places to start. I already have a gratitude journal (if you don’t have one, check this out) but that’s another way to shift your thinking. The day may not have been great but there’s usually a few things we can be grateful for.

This week, I will pay close attention to my thoughts and ask myself why? if there’s negative chatter going on my head. I urge you to do the same! The energy we put out returns to us so lets all put more positivity into the world.

Wishing you a week filled with sunshine and laughter,

Tanya

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