We all get to wake up each day and choose whether we are going to be a glass half-full or a glass half-empty person.
As we know, life can present challenging times and we can at times face mountains to climb, feeling things will never change or get better. Indeed, when I work with clients who are facing a career crossroads they can often seem lost and struggle to see a way out of their situation. Research has found that seeing the glass half full not only makes you happier, it makes you healthier and wealthier. Expecting good things to happen will lead to actions that produce positive results. Expecting only more bad things to come your way will keep you from doing the very things that might have minimized or avoided just that!
So, what does Optimism mean? The word derives from the Latin word ‘Optima,’ meaning the best outcome or belief in the greatest good. If you look in the English dictionary the meaning is
‘hopefulness and confidence about the future or the success of something’
Some people confuse optimism with delusion. It is not about sitting round and waiting for good things to happen by visualizing success, and it is not the blind belief that everything will be fine whilst you are not changing your behaviours. Whilst optimists focus on the best outcomes, they are also realistic. They recognize that things don’t always go well and things on occasions do go wrong. Yet we need enough healthy pessimism to check for possible downsides, consider the risks and plan for the worst case scenario.
Martin Seligman the father of Positive Psychology has done much research into this area and has written a book called ‘Learned Optimism’. He has also developed a Learned Optimism Test which you can take here
So, through my own experience I believe that we can actually program ourselves to think with a more optimist mindset over time. I also believe that you can. Here are some practical tips to help you with the process
How to Find More Inspiration for Optimism
- Look for the silver lining: I know I know, it is a little cliché but it really is so true. It’s hard when you’re right in the middle of a difficult situation, but take a few minutes to mentally step back from the situation and see if there is just one area that could be seen as positive.
- Positive Friends: choose to spend time with the most positive people you know. If you don’t know any, time to step up and find some—it will be fun!
- Look for inspiration: there are several ways you can surround yourself with inspiration, such as spending time in nature, or reading inspirational books, helping a friend or neighbour, exercise!
- Be Grateful: there is always something you can be grateful for, so acknowledge it, say it out loud. My favourite is “thank you for my breath”
The more you are aware of your negative reactions, the more frequently you can challenge those reactions, and the more you look to surround yourself with inspiration, the more optimistic your life will be. Once you are in this more positive frame of mind, the easier it is to make the decision to live a fuller life—one with more fun, more joy, more excitement, and more adventure.
And in the words of Martin Seligman
Optimism generates hope….hope releases dreams….dreams set goals….enthusiasm follows’