Optimism is a renewable resource. Boost yours with these tips.
At the most recent Birthday University online Master Class, when asked how everyone is, an attendee responded, “well I get paid to be optimistic but my optimism sure takes a beating sometimes.” I believe that we can all relate to that sentiment these days. The good news is that optimism, like happiness, is a “renewable resource” and fostering more of it can help prepare you for a brighter, more successful new year. Read on for seven ways to improve your outlook today.
No.1: Practice “three good things”.
A gratitude practice is a terrific way to build a strong sense of optimism. By reflecting on the recent past, you can train your mind to look for the positives more often. Take a moment now to think about the last 24 hours. What are three positive things that happened or that you’re grateful for. Be intentional and practice looking for positives every day and soon you won’t have to prompt yourself, you’ll see them in many situations throughout the day.
No. 2: Change your language.
In order to change your perspective, sometimes you must change how you think and talk about challenges. Try to reframe negative commentary using more positive or even neutral language. It’s hard to feel optimistic when you’ve convinced yourself the sky has, in fact, already fallen.
As you make this switch in your language, your perspective will start to change. You’ll see mistakes as learning opportunities and begin to creatively address challenges. For example:
Instead of: Today was awful. I had no idea what I was doing.
Try: Today was a challenge, but I learned that can keep calm in a crisis and will know what to do in the future.
Instead of: Gosh I’m so stupid. I can’t believe I just did that.
Try: I haven’t dealt with that before (and that's ok). If I had to deal with this again, next time I’ll...
No. 3: Tell yourself the truth.
Beware of “all or nothing” language that prevents you from thinking objectively about a situation. It might feel like a team member (or spouse or child) never does what they’re supposed to do, but that’s unlikely the reality. Using exacting language negatively like always and never usually magnifies a situation and makes it worse. Try to think productively when you can.
Instead of: This will never work. This [terrible thing] always happens to me.
Try: How will I get through this situation? In the past, I was successful by…
Instead of: I do all the work around here. No one ever appreciates me.
Try: Hey [team mate, spouse, child, friend,] could you help me with ...
No. 4: Call a positive friend.
Misery loves company and it might feel natural when things aren’t going well to call a friend who will mire in the mud with you. Having someone who will actively listen to you with empathy can provide comfort, but often venting in anger repeatedly causes more problems than it solves. Instead of calling a friend to vent or complain, consider calling a friend who is naturally optimistic and ask for their help thinking through a situation.
No. 5: Find someone to help.
There is little more humbling and fulfilling than helping someone in need. Now, and throughout the year, there are many causes that need your support. Find one that matters to you and lend your time or energy when you can. Not only can this help you see how fortunate you might be, but it can also help fill you up emotionally. Some great causes are:
- Foster animals from a local rescue while they await adoption or transport.
- Volunteer at a community service organization, such as domestic violence, homeless, or animal shelters; local food banks; Habitat for Humanity; the Red Cross; or any other organization whose mission you admire.
- Collect canned goods or toys to donate to local food banks or support organizations.
- Mentor a child through a community service organization like Big Brothers/Big Sisters.
No. 6: Watch a “feel good” movie.
I love true crime documentaries as much as the next person, but there is something so uplifting about getting your escapism through heartwarming content. Hot chocolate and Hallmark holiday movie bingo, anyone?
No. 7: Start a new tradition or hobby.
With the holidays this year most likely looking very different, it’s natural to feel a little down thinking about what you’re not able to do. Now could be the perfect time to start a new tradition or explore a new hobby. Some ideas:
- Create a facility holiday carol or birthday song.
- Take up (cell phone) photography.
- Learn a new skill (baking, healthy cooking, woodworking, painting, running, home repair, etc.).
- Build a gingerbread house.
- Learn about a subject that interests you (youtube, books, audiobooks, and streaming services are all full of information that’s yours for the taking).
The key to fostering optimism comes down to being more present - and more positive - in the moments of each day.
What are you doing to keep your spirits up? Share with us in the comments or on Twitter.