Whenever someone has a problem, we say automatically to the person to “look on the brighter side” or “see the cup as half full”. Such wise advice may lead the person to shed off negativity. When faced with stressful situations, positive thinking helps us calm down and review the situation in a wider perspective, which can prove to be useful in handling it.
To maintain a positive viewpoint in stressful situations is a mental attitude of optimism. Being optimistic is defined as expecting the best possible outcome from any given situation. Like all psychological traits, optimism is heritable but is strongly influenced by environmental factors, including family environment.
A recent meta-analysis of optimism supported past findings that optimism is positively correlated with life satisfaction, happiness, psychological and physical well-being. Generally, optimists choose lifestyles, which make them lead a healthier life.
Many suggest that optimism is a learnable behavior. Moreover, it is positively contagious.
The following are some effective ways to develop optimism –
Associate with positive people – Company one keeps closely influences the person. So, surround yourself with people who have positive outlooks. Their positivity will definitely infect you. There goes a saying that if you want to soar with the eagles, you have to stop hanging out with the ducks.
Expect ups and downs – Having a realistic perspective helps prevent things from being blown out of proportion. By maintain an attitude that we all have ups and downs in life, we will be able to face every situation positively. The reality is that life isn’t always rainbows and butterflies.
Find an opportunity in difficulty – Optimism means understanding that difficult situations will inevitably appear, often temporarily. It also means that one has ability to combat the challenges that one faces. Optimism implies having a sense of hopefulness that a situation whether good or bad has an inherent opportunity for us to learn from. Remember, the most beautiful rainbows come from the sunlight after a thunderstorm.
Keep positive reminders within range of vision – By writing down short statements that inspire optimism and placing them where one can see them everyday – bathroom mirror, inside of locker and on computer monitor – really helps one maintain positivity.
Work on things that can be controlled – Whenever we land in a situation we think we cannot control, instead of becoming its victim, we should acknowledge the fact. This will prevent us from slipping into pessimism. May be, we find a solution at some point in future if we stay positive. Instead, we should concentrate more on what is under our control.
Practice gratitude – We all have so much good in life, for which we should be thankful. But it is a paradox that we think more about what we don’t have as compared to others. Always count your blessings as an old adage goes. This will help frame a better attitude and take your mind off of the negatives.
Appreciate all is impermanent – Nothing is permanent in life that includes everything. However, a current good or bad situation will also change. This belief will kindle optimism in a person.
Focus on the present – We are all obsessed with the past and the future. But, as a matter of fact, life is happening right now. Instead of living in the past and worrying about the future, we should practice living in the present moment.
The trait of optimism is inherently present in all albeit to varying extents. Nonetheless, it is possible for those, who lack the trait, to change their mindset and start thinking more positively. And thus they can reap a whole host of its benefits including improved wellbeing, lowered stress levels, better relationships and improved quality of life.