Article by Zoe Hugunin
Optimism comes in several different forms. It can be a trait that is both learned and inherited. It can be an idea that can be interpreted. It can be a strength. It can also be a powerful force that has been sold as a way to “heal the world.”
In simpler terms, optimism is hopefulness and confidence about the future. In a more cliche way, optimism is the glass half full. No matter how it’s described, it’s a mannerism that every human being will experience at some point in their lives. Some will experience it a lot, and others may struggle with optimistic thought.
It can be a hard idea to face. The idea that you have to be happy, or that you should be happy. We live in a world where pessimism is easy. We are divided, we are facing a global pandemic, confronting political and environmental crises, and trying to learn and better ourselves all at once. It’s almost as if our brains are wired for pessimism right now and telling someone to “be optimistic” about their lives isn’t as simple as it sounds. But it is possible.
The power of optimism is a truehearted theory that allows you to understand simple changes that can positively affect your life. None of us have the choice of what experiences we encounter, but we do have the choice of how we respond.
With that in mind, here are three ways to start practicing optimism in the venture to better yourself.
1. Redefine Optimism.
Optimism is not always happiness. Happiness is not always applicable to every human at every given moment in their life. Thinking optimistically doesn’t mean you have to force yourself to be happy and ignore the stress in your life.
The difference between optimists and pessimists isn’t the level of happiness in their personal lives. It’s how they have trained themselves to handle certain situations. So, redefine the phrase. Write out how YOU want your optimism to be. It’s on your own terms.
2. Challenge negative self-talk.
Putting yourself down is the hardest aspect to change when attempting to switch to an optimistic mindset. It is so easy to tear yourself apart and turn your stressors into insecurities, which can make you feel worse about the future.
Challenge it. This is a HUGE challenge for everyone. But, it can make all the difference. It surely sounds easier than it is, yet when you start looking at yourself in a positive light, the rest of your world can potentially find positivity as well.
A good way to combat pessimistic self-talk is through journaling. Journaling has become a lot popular over the past few years, and it’s good this self-care hack is being brought into the light. Next time you find yourself speaking negatively about yourself, write about it. Write about why you think it’s true. Write about why you don’t think it’s true. Write about yourself from an outside perspective. You just might find that your negative self-talk is all falsities.
3. Focus on your success.
Why are we so happy for others but never happy for ourselves? We congratulate friends on their accomplishments that we have also accomplished. It seems so much bigger when someone else achieves something. We’ll downplay and ignore our successes, and this is a quirk that should be worked on.
Regularly remind yourself of your accomplishments. Are you in school? Great! Do you have a job? Great! Did you get out of bed this morning? Great! Did you eat? That’s great too. We need to celebrate our small victories as well because that can lead to a more optimistic mindset.
Focus on yourself and focus on your efforts. They’re important too.