A meta-analysis of 15 studies by Alan. R, M.D covering more than 22 thousand individuals, showed that an optimistic mindset is positively linked with a lower cardiovascular risk in life. The study also concluded that promoting optimism and reducing pessimism can aid public health and the prevention of cardiovascular risk. These facts clearly show that learning how to be more optimistic is a worthwhile investment for your health and satisfaction. But what does being more optimistic mean, and how to be more optimistic?
APA(American Psychological Association) defines optimism as hopefulness, confidence, and perseverance in gaining, producing, or expecting positive outcomes. The difference between optimism and superstition or magical thinking is subtle but necessary.
Mentally healthy optimism results from trust or confidence in yourself and accurate reality testing. The latter is a therapeutic term that means trying to see reality as it is or not having a distorted perception. A distorted or biased view of reality doesn’t consider how things are.
For instance, even a small mistake while doing something makes you anticipate failure and doubt your own abilities, or maybe you devalue the activity itself. Mistakes are a learning experience on the path to getting better, being biased, or having a partial view of things can lead you to harmful assumptions like this. Such perceptions often involve assumptions and can affect you negatively as they feed into pessimism or blind optimism.
Optimism Vs. Pessimism
As we discussed, optimism is believing that things will take a favorable turn or you will get what you want. It looks at the glass as half full and focuses on what you have. On the other hand, pessimism is seeing the glass as half empty or looking only at what you lack. It can be harmful and hinders your ability to see the positive side of life. It makes you less confident, cynical, and in worse cases, depressed. That’s why it’s always better to be an optimist rather than a pessimist. The latter attitude also stops you from going after what you want, as there’s a greater chance of failure.
How to be More Optimistic In Life when you are a pessimist?
If you find yourself assuming the worst, thinking that hope only serves as an illusion, and refraining from acting on your desires because of the possibility of failure, you are likely pessimistic. On the other hand, if you expect success, hope for better things, and have confidence that you can achieve these outcomes for yourself, you are an optimist.
Optimism, like any form of thinking, is a cycle. The more optimistically you think, the more likely you will develop a positive and life-affirming attitude. Nobody is born an optimist or a pessimist. You can alter the way you think with practice or professional help if you feel like it.
Ways to be more optimistic in life
Mindfulness is linked with the therapeutic techniques of self-validation and emotional regulation. It includes awareness of the present moment, your senses, and your thoughts. It can be relevant for optimism by making you aware of positive and negative thought patterns.
Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to be mindful or feel certain. Expectations of how you’re supposed to feel can cause you to invalidate or push your feelings aside. Knowing how you make decisions when optimistic vs. pessimistic is the first step to learning how to be more optimistic.
2. Challenge your old convictions
Many of our adopted thinking patterns hold us back. Adopted in the sense that these beliefs do not originate from us, and we haven’t considered much about them. We take on the opinions of our friends, loved ones, and other people at face value. We are even justified in doing so since it’s not feasible to test everything we hear to be true.
However, you need to know that these beliefs can be harmful, mainly when they concern you. For instance, someone might have told you in childhood that you’re not good at art. You accepted it at the time and never explored your potential for artwork again. In reality, if you tried you might’ve gotten much better at the craft with practice.
Mindfulness and challenging your old convictions are ways of becoming more self-aware. Not knowing how to become more optimistic can leave you frustrated and a little lost, but self-awareness can teach you many things other practices can’t. For instance, you may come to learn your limits, your strengths, and weakness or that comparing yourself with others isn’t healthy.
To start, you can observe your inner monologue, see how to talk to yourself, what you feel about your daily experiences, and how you come to view them later.
4. Develop meaningful and supportive relationships
Surround yourself with people who brighten your day, be positive in your interactions with others, and have an accepting and caring attitude. Relationships are perhaps the most important source of meaning and happiness in life. Hence, you should pay special attention to how you relate with others and make sure that the relationships in your life positively impact you and the others involved.
Ensuring your relationships are healthy also means that you have to remove the ones that aren’t. You may want to keep many people in your life, but it may not be wise if they hurt you or don’t contribute anything to your well-being.
For instance, you may support an old friend who never seems to appreciate you because of nostalgia. If you feel heartbroken while even considering leaving unhealthy relationships, you can start by detaching yourself emotionally from the people concerned.
Becoming mindful and self-aware, changing your perspective, and improving your relationships will give you much to be thankful for. But even now, there are many things in your life left unappreciated. It benefits you to be grateful if you enjoy something and want it to stay in your life. Doing so keeps you aware of your preferences and helps you avoid making mistakes that cause you to lose what’s important.
Your optimism journal can be dedicated to maintaining a positive attitude but can include other things too. You can use mantras and affirmations or record your experiences or inner monologues; this type of record will also let you know how far you’ve come.
For instance, you can appreciate and acknowledge your achievements through affirmations or console yourself for perfectly doing something you want to master. You can also use journals for art and unleash your creative side through doodles, artwork, and mind maps.
7. Set goals and execute them properly
To improve your optimism, you can also build up willpower and perseverance. Willpower gives you the confidence to overcome obstacles and, most importantly, take the first step toward your dreams. You can also learn how to be more optimistic at work or while performing tasks you usually find challenging. As you become more self-aware, your ability to set reasonable goals and act on them will increase.
You will know about your habits, triggers, and other things you were unaware of. All this information will help guide you to structure a life conducive to your needs and traits. In simpler terms, it will allow you to design your life to be better.
Optimism is a trait or a style of thinking that focuses on the positive aspects of the silver linings in any situation. Healthy optimism is based on accurate reality testing and trust in yourself. We hope we’ve answered the question, “how can I be more optimistic?” for you rightly. Learning how to become an optimistic person can be tricky, but with the techniques we mentioned, you can easily guide yourself to a life of increased positivity.
Starting as an optimist can be challenging, and it helps to take things step-by-step. Here is a list of short-term mental health goals you can quickly start working on for a slow but steady recovery.
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