Sir Ken Robinson said that he believes that we don’t grow into creativity that we grow out of it or rather we get educated out of it. I hold this to be true with optimism. I believe we are all born optimistic with this innate ability to believe we can do, be, achieve anything but somewhere down the “growing up” road we are educated out of it and start to believe otherwise.
How and the hell are you suppose to be optimistic when it feels like the world is caving in around you? Maybe you’re struggling with trying to lose those last few pounds, or having a hard time finding the time to fit in your workouts with your busy schedule, over-loaded at work, house work, bills, and stress seems to be piling up.
You might even have a friend or two that always seem to find the bright side of things. Always positive, nothing seems to get them down, they’re always happy go-lucky and tough times seem to just float over their head. We’re they born optimists? Is it something in their genes? I don’t think it’s either.
Optimism is something you teach yourself. A habit that you develop. A skill that needs to be learned.
So with everything that’s going on in your world today what steps to teach yourself the skills that can lead to more positive outcomes, more rose-colored glasses, more frowns upside down, and more glasses half full and less glasses half empty?
CHOOSE HOW YOU WANT TO RESPOND
Optimism is not easy. It takes hard work but if you can catch yourself in those negative thoughts and practice positive ones you’ll slowly be able to build the habit. It may feel a little uncomfortable at first and even a bit “fake,” when something goes wrong and you’re use to seeing the bad side of things.
Just remember, we always get to choose how we will respond to any situation. You have a choice to respond to it negatively or positively. Pay attention to your thoughts. If you naturally respond to a difficult situation negatively write that thought down. Read it to yourself out loud and then immediately respond with something positive. How can the situation become a learning experience? Or a way to help others through a difficult time?
It’s going to be tough and it really will take a lot of practice but remember that you always get to choose how you will respond to any situation. Ask yourself right now; how do I most often interpret events?
When something occurs in your life that you would normally respond negatively to explain to yourself why this event happened. If your on a fat loss plan and your weight went up explain to yourself why this may be. What in the course of the week could have led to this?
If you are behind on a work project explain to yourself why that may be?
If you are feeling run down and tired. Go through the same process. What could have led to the fatigue?
KNOW THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN OPTIMISM AND POSITIVE THINKING
Optimism and positive thinking are not the same thing. I like to think of positive thinking as the talk and optimism as the walk.
Optimism is the action.
The actual carrying out of those positive thoughts. So learn to walk the walk and not just talk the talk.
It makes more sense to walk around with a smile, a good attitude, and a kick-ass sense of humor. Start your day off on the optimistic side of things. Roll out of bed and get your optimism on.
First visualize your day exactly as you would like it to go. Then act on it. Participate in the behaviors that lead to the outcomes of your optimistic day.
Personally I love to get up and visualize the day ahead of me. The very next thing I do is to throw on some headphones and get listening to some beats that will put me in a good mood. Other days I’ll throw on a favorite Tedx talk to get my mind right. Like this one.
START DONIG MORE THINGS THAT ARE IMPORTANT TO YOU
Optimism is easy when you’re doing more things that are YOU. Those things you love most and are most passionate about. Spend time more time with the people who are the most important to you. You’ll dramatically see your optimism skyrocket!
Think about it for a second. When you were a kid you could do and be anything. You spent your days with your friends, your family, and the days were mostly spent doing things you love. Playing baseball, creating masterpieces on a homemade easel, or baking fresh cookies with your grandmother. Somewhere along the way as we grow up we stop listening to ourselves and start listening to everybody but ourselves. We’re suppose to do this, we can’t do that cause it’s not “realistic,” you have to go to this school, and get this type of job, and live this sort of like.
But what if you don’t want that?
It’s hard to be optimist when you are constantly making decisions that revolve around what everyone else is telling you to do.
I know what you’re thinking. But circumstances change as we get older. I agree… they do to a degree. But for the most part our circumstances change because we let them. If you can’t sit still and fidget around don’t let someone tell you have ADD, maybe you’re just a dancer at heart. Or if you doodle in class and are told you need to pay more attention ask yourself if you are an artist.
Start doing more things you love. If you don’t know what you love then start experimenting by creating new experiences for yourself. Watch your optimism explode.
EVERYTHING YOU DO MATTERS
A sure-fire way to remain pessimistic is to hold the belief that what you do does not matter. That the decisions you make, actions you take, and their impact have no real significance. If we think what we do on a daily basis has no impact on the world as a whole than it can seem like nothing really matters.
- You may have felt like this in a job. You have all these ideas oozing out of your pours but you the environment you are in will not let you act upon them. Maybe they keep getting shot down.
- Are you trying everything to build some muscle or lose some weight but nothing seems to be working so you just give up?
It’s hard to remain optimistic when it seems like every decision you make is either over-looked or does not seem to be working. But it’s important to remember that becoming an optimist is all about building a habit. If you keep telling yourself that your choices don’t matter or have no real significance, eventually you’ll start to believe it and it becomes an automatic habit any time you have to make a choice.
So when situations arise there are three ways to look at them.
1. Permanence: The idea that something is likely to happen again and again or is only temporary. An optimist sees good things that happen as permanent and bad things that happen as temporary. Someone that is pessimistic would see good events as short-term or temporary and bad things as permanent or likely to happen again and again.
2. Pervasiveness: The idea that an event is either reflective of your entire life or is related to that specific event. An optimist sees good events as universal or related to their entire life and bad events as specific to that instant and that instant only and does not define their existence as a whole. A pessimist would see good events as only related to that specific time period and event while bad things would be a reflection of their entire life.
3. Personalization: Is the idea that decisions and events are either internal or external. Or more specifically that we are either responsible for events in our life or that most of them are out of our control. An optimist would view good events as internal or something that we are in control of while bad events are usually out of our control and external.
THE FOUR BELIEFS OF THE HIGHLY OPTIMISTIC
There are four traits that optimists have in common when it comes down to thinking about goals and achieving them.
When faced with a challenge an optimist believes they have the ability to carry out the task. So for example if getting back into shape is the goal an optimist believes that they have the ability to get back into shape. They can physically, mentally, and emotionally carry out the steps that are required to complete a goal.
Aptitude would be the competence to carry out the goal. Can be physical or mental but is not necessarily knowledge based. It may relate to talent or the readiness to quickly learn what it takes.. An optimist believes they would have the talent to conquer a goal.
The desire is the need to achieve it. Do you really want it? It’s your why. The reason you are doing something. A lot of people say they want to get into shape but do they really. Many just say it because it’s the right thing to say. You’re suppose to want to healthier right? But if you really don’t care or have the desire it is not going to happen for you.
Motivation and discipline go together. It’s easy to be motivated. Most of us get to motivated when we start a new challenge. We get all gun-ho and adapt this “all-in” mentality but when sh*t hits the fan we start to doubt ourselves and that motivation starts to ween a bit. This is where discipline comes in. An optimist believes that when the going gets tough they have the discipline to get back in line with the things they need to be doing to achieve long-term success. That set backs are only temporary and offer a chance to learn and grow as well as improve in the future.
WHY EVEN BOTHER TO BE OPTIMISTIC
Every single one of us has experienced the good, the bad, setbacks, and success. There is a good chance you already talk to yourself on a daily basis – now start paying attention to what it is you say. You’ll probably find that for certain circumstances and instances your responses will be automatic and a habit. This is where it is important to ask yourself those three P’s (permanence, pervasiveness, and personalization). How do your responses to events fit in? Can you catch yourself so that you develop the habit of optimism.
Success requires persistence and so does optimism. You have to physically and mentally work at it. It may be one of the more challenging things you face. Can you be persistent and dedicated enough to teach yourself how to be more optimistic.
Optimism is contagious. It’s like the yawn collective stretch and yawn at the end of a long movie at the theatre. Don’t believe me, look around at how many people stretch and yawn when a film ends. Your positive thoughts and actions have more significance than you know. They will rub off on everyone around you from your husband or wife to your kids or friends. People want to be positive and want to be happy.
This is your life (and how you tell it). Our lives are like an unwritten story. Every day we is like a page. You have the opportunity to write, or re-write any situation, event, decision, or outcome simply by choosing how you will react. Choose to react positively.
So what are you going to do? How can you be more optimistic?