How is it that some people seem to be always happy and able to look on the bright side while others dwell on the bad things that are happening?
It may surprise you to learn that it is possible to become a more positive person. First of all, it’s worth assessing what kind of biases you tend to have. You can use this quick test here to see if you are more of a positive or negative thinker.
7 steps to becoming more optimistic
If you’ve identified some areas where you tend to be pessimistic, here are some ways to change.
- Take Care of Yourself. If you want to feel your best mentally, it’s important to be at your optimum physically. This does not mean trying to match the appearance of air-brushed models in the media. It means eating a well-balanced diet, getting enough rest and regularly engaging in physical activities you enjoy. You’ll be surprised at how feeling good in your skin helps you to feel more positive.
- Mind Your Language. Have you ever noticed how some people use a lot of negative words like "don’t," "can’t," "shouldn't," and "mustn’t"? These seemingly innocent small words add up. Try to listen to yourself talking for a day. Are there any words you keep saying that you could swap for something more favorable
- Practice Affirmations. Affirmations are short phrases we say to ourselves to manifest a certain desire. For example, you can say, “I choose to be positive today.” The secret to using affirmations is repeating them regularly. Affirmations help us to stay present and focused on the good things in our lives.
- Visualize. Along with affirmations, visualizing positive outcomes can help us become more optimistic thinkers. If you have a challenging situation ahead, sit quietly and imagine the best possible outcome. Through the process of visualization, we can steer our brain and behavior towards success.
- Search for a Silver Lining. Most situations and events have some element of good to them, albeit it might not be immediately obvious. If a problem arises, is there any way of re-framing it and seeing it as an opportunity or challenge? Sometimes obstacles can be mixed blessings as they may ask us to call upon our support system and grow closer to those around us.
- Choose Positive Company. You can probably think back to a conversation which left you feeling negative, because the other person was stressed or complaining. While we don’t always have the luxury of choosing colleagues and family, pay attention to the people who tend to bring you down. Where possible, limit your time with them. Consider your boundaries with them and how much they need to be part of your social media scene.
- Start a Gratitude Journal. It isn’t always easy to keep perspective when there are lots of stressful events going on in our lives, but spending a few minutes each day to stop and appreciate kind words and actions can help us to shift our focus.
Be the change…
As Gandhi reportedly said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” By making small changes, it is possible to shift how you think, feel and act. If you feel that your negative thoughts are too overwhelming, seek the counsel of a mental health professional to help you make steps toward a more positive outlook.
Learned Optimism Test