“Always Look on the Bright Side of Life“ is a song which was written by Eric Idle and featured on Monty Python’s Life of Brian. It’s more than just a song, though, because as well as being funny and entertaining, it describes the British trait of the “stiff upper lip”, or remaining positive in spite of life’s challenges. I’ll often listen to it when I need a little lift because sometimes you need something which can help to temporarily forget your troubles on a bad day and raise a smile. I write about it today because it also contains an important lesson which i’d like to share, and that is the power of optimism.
Optimism is an incredible force for good. It improves your mood, which can in turn benefit your mental health, and positively impact your physical health. Physical health?! Yes. When your mindset is positive and you are happy, your stress levels are reduced, you are less tense and therefore better able to rest. The better rested you are, the more energy you have, and the more energy you have the less likely you will be to turn to sugary energy drinks or sweets to get you through the day. Most important of all however, is that it has the power to attract positivity into your life. All it requires is a shift in your outlook.
Optimism is a matter of how you view the world around you and your place in it. Optimists look for the positives in any situation. If, however, the situation is a bad one, they look for the lessons from which they can learn. An optimist sees life as a continuous process of learning with opportunities which are offered, and tend to adopt a more proactive approach in life. Rather than wait for things to happen and then react to them, they tend to go out and make things happen. That is why many successful people are those who tend to look on the bright side of life.
Optimism is a learned trait, and here are a few things which might help you develop a more optimistic outlook on life;
- Focus on what you can control. There lots of things which we can’t control but infuriate or upset us, such as the weather, traffic and the behaviour of other people. Rather than waste time and energy on these things, focus instead on that which you can control. You can’t control the weather but you can prepare for it. You can’t control traffic but you can leave home earlier and give yourself more time to get to your destination. As for other people, you can’t control what they say or do but you can control how you react and respond to them. Your time and energy should be spent on controlling your thoughts and emotions and working on your personal development. These are the areas which you can control and where your effort will be rewarded. Once you realise that you are in control of your thoughts, decisions and actions you will see that your life’s direction really is in your hands.
- Express gratitude. Every day, for 5 minutes before going to bed, pick up a pen and paper and note down 3 things for which you are grateful. This is a powerful exercise. The more you reflect on what you have to be thankful for, the more you will find. The more you find, the happier and more positive you will become.
- Be more selective about your sources of information. Put down the newspapers and magazines, which are often full of doom and gloom or trying to sell you something. Instead, feed your mind with something positive, inspirational, motivational or informative. There are countless books, audiobooks, podcasts and websites which can help you to increase your knowledge and make progress towards your goals. Feast on these, but be sure to put your new knowledge into practice or else it will be wasted.
- Surround yourself with people “better” than you. Spend more time around people who are where you would like to be in life. Be inspired by them, be motivated by them but above all else, learn from them.
Life is a rollercoaster with plenty of highs and lows. If, however, you develop a positive outlook you may very well find not only that the highs outnumber the lows, but that the lows have plenty to teach us.
So, in short, if you want a better quality of life learn to always look on its bright side.