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“How can I be more optimistic?”
Compassion is something that I’ve been recognized for by numerous people, and I really appreciate that. But, that doesn’t mean that I walk around all the time just happy as can be. If something is bad, I'm probably going to react in a bad way. I’ve said some horrible things, I've done some not so great things, and I've made enemies. The point of that is optimism is not faking happiness.
Optimism is seeing the best in what can happen in the future or the present, despite what’s happening around you currently. It’s acknowledging the things that are happening but knowing that there’s a purpose and a reason for it, and you have to know that it, no matter what it is, gets better.
So, first. Identify yourself as an optimist or a pessimist. I firmly believe that we all are a little bit of both from time to time, but what are you overall? Do you default to the negative more often than not? If something happens, even if it doesn’t happen to you, do you feel worn out and just like everything is a failure? Really really think about that.
If you want to just be more optimistic overall, then hey let’s get into this.
Optimism is about 25% inheritable, and the rest is pretty environmental. So, if you are more of a pessimist, don’t worry. We got you.
Again, optimism is not happiness. Optimists don’t always see the positive in every situation. Like everything in life, it’s about balance. If you’re too happy and you ignore all the negatives entirely, it will catch up to you eventually.
I’ve talked before about how I take a more scientific approach to things because number one, that’s my thing and number two, it makes sense. So, let’s look at your brain.
Positive moods flare up in the left-side of the brain, and negative moods and emotions flare up more in the right (not in their entirety but mostly for both). If you’ve taken an 8th grade science class then you know that you literally have the power to rewire your brain and that is what we are going to try and do today. Well, not today but with the practices in this episode used daily for even a few weeks, you’ll start to notice a change. Consistency is always key.
We talked about resilience before, and optimism is closely linked to emotional and mental resilience. If you remember the health benefits we talked about in our resilience episodes then you’ll know the benefits of being more optimistic already. If you didn’t listen to that episode, scroll down.
I’ll give you a handful of ways to rewire your brain.
First activity, get out your sunglasses. This is something that I’ve found worked instantly with my patients at my previous job. If you have a negative thought right now, a recurring one, I want you to pretend, or even actually do, take out a pair of sunglasses. Right now. Do it. Did you do it? Great. Picture your negative thoughts in front of you. Visualize it sitting there just looking at you.
Put on your sunglasses. These are your Positivity Lenses. Look at the issue sitting in front of you. Weird because it was just right there but now, the only thing you can see is what you gained throughout the day. Is it a really good conversation with a friend? Is it a paycheck? Is it a good date with your partner?
Is it silly to pretend to wear sunglasses every time something is going on? Maybe. But, do this internally also. Negative thought? Replace it immediately. No, this doesn’t solve the issue right now, but it does allow you to shift into the right mindset to actually solve the issue instead of just thinking about it.
Another thing you can do? Evaluate your ocean. What I mean by that is think of you and your social circle like it’s an ocean. Is anybody spilling oil in it? Is there someone that is just constantly negative? Because that shit spreads like….oil in the ocean. I’m not saying get rid of this person immediately, unless they are emotionally or physically hurting you in a way that is irreparable. What you can do is don’t let the oil or the negative emotions get to you. Fight them with positive ones because positivity is the clean up crew in the ocean. Anything that this friend says when you are with them, repeat it back to them in a positive way. For example your friend says “ugh it just rained all day, i couldn’t get anything done outside.” so, you say “yeah, it rained all day! I love getting the chance to stay in and watch my favorite movies and cook a good meal.”
Simple step here, stop watching the news. Unless it’s your job, don’t watch it. That’s it.
One other thing that I love is inspired by Justin Tyme. A few years ago I saw him talking about what he was grateful for that day and he posted it. Not only was this helping him get a little positive boost in the morning but I mean years later I still remember it and I’ll do it occasionally still myself.
Last couple activities or mindsets, send yourself into the future. Close your eyes, picture you in 5 years. Picture you in 10 years. Think about what you’re doing at that time. Feel yourself in those moments. Physically and mentally.
And finally, recognize when things are going good. Acknowledge the negative but only think intensely about what you can control.
I’m going to start linking activities with these episodes for at least this month. So, go check out the freebie download tab every Friday!