Both old school wisdom and modern day science say that optimism is one of the greatest indicators of how successful you’ll be. This is supported by scientific research which found evidence that optimistic people do enjoy a higher quality of life when compared to pessimists. The study highlighted that optimism promoted a healthier lifestyle, greater flexibility, and better problem-solving capacities.
Let’s try to discover what being optimistic means and what optimistic people do differently.
What is Optimistic Person?
Life has its ups and downs. It can be a fun ride, but you also have some awful stuff happening in life. There is, however, a group of people that stands solid as a rock, no matter how tough it gets. Optimists. They get back up on their feet after each failure and tell you with a smile on their face, “it wasn’t that bad, was it?”
An optimistic person sees the glass as half-full rather than half empty. And in situations in which life gives them lemons they always have sugar, water, and salt at hand to make lemonade. Being optimistic can have a profound impact not only on your view of life in general but also your physical and mental health.
Studies are showing that in the long run, having a positive outlook on life will make you happier, healthier, and wealthier while raising your quality of life. It’s key!
Positive psychologist Martin Seligman says “Habits of thinking need not be forever. One of the most significant findings in psychology in the last twenty years is that individuals can choose the way they think.”
Another positive psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky says “All that is required to become an optimist is to have the goal and to practice it. The more you rehearse optimistic thoughts, the more ‘natural’ and ‘ingrained’ they will become. With time they will be part of you, and you will have made yourself into an altogether different person.”
How to Be More Optimistic
Studies published in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology suggest that positive and negative attitudes might be hardwired into our brains. The researchers found a brain marker that distinguishes negative thinkers from positive thinkers. That’s good news for optimists, but what about the other people out there who swing to opposite end of the attitude continuum? Are pessimists doomed to negative thinking, worry, and anxiety forever?
Fortunately, the answer is no, and if you do tend toward pessimism, there are plenty of inspiring reasons to work on creating a more optimistic attitude. Optimists do better in almost all areas of life.
Reframe your frustrations. Researchers at the University of Kent in England found that people who strived to see the positive side of things that went wrong — rather than venting to friends about what went wrong, or blaming themselves for small failures — were happier and more satisfied at the end of the day.
“If you didn’t get that promotion or you failed an exam or a relationship disintegrated, what can you learn from it? Failure can be a huge gift,” Lombardo says.
Just say “om.” Recent research suggests that people who meditate daily have more positive emotions than those who don’t. Mindful meditation works just as well, says Richard O’Connor, Ph.D.
Look for inspiration. there are several ways you can surround yourself with inspiration, such as spending time with smiling babies, or reading inspirational books, encouragement quotes, and affirmation.
Give yourself daily “done wells.” Get in the habit of recognizing “done wells.” Take a few moments every day to ask the question, “What have I done well today?” This simple gesture reinforces optimism on a daily basis. The answers accumulate and eventually help you develop self-confidence, which is extremely important for success.
Play a 30-second “movie” of your life daily. Create an imaginary movie reel of your ideal life, including specific details about how you look, how you feel, where you live, what you’re doing, what you’ve accomplished, and what your life is like. Set aside 30 seconds every day to play this movie in your mind. Set an alarm on your phone to remind you to do it. This simple mental training exercise will instantly boost your mood and transform the way you think about yourself, your potential, and your future.
Inspire yourself with a smile. If you expect the worst, the worst will happen. If you let things bother you, they will. But if you smile, you’ll feel better. Studies have shown that putting a cheerful smile on your face can trigger a part of your brain that actually makes you feel happier and more optimistic about the present and future.
Make a happy list. Every evening, write down three or four great things that happened that day. A recent study in the Journal of Research in Personality found that writing about positive experiences for just 3 straight days has lasting effects on mood.
Focus on solutions, not on problems. If you find yourself obsessing about a problem, feeling negative, or experiencing self-doubt, change your focus by asking: What’s one thing I could do differently that might make this situation better? Replacing problem-focused thinking with solution-focused thinking immediately gives you a sense of forward movement, possibility, and hope — the foundations of optimism.
Give love, receive love. Love is the greatest force in the universe. It’s a treasure that people would give anything for, yet it costs nothing to give and receive. There is an endless supply, and it can be extended to family, friends, and strangers at any moment. It increases positivity and acts like a shield against negativity. It forgives, heals, encourages and inspires.
Be Grateful. There is always something you can be grateful for, so acknowledge it, say it out loud. My favorite is “thank you for my breath”