Are you a glass-half-empty kind of person? When someone pays you a compliment, you got everything on your list done for the day early, or finally accomplished something you’ve really been working hard for…do you focus on what’s next instead of taking a moment to appreciate what went well?
If something just awful — or even simply irritating — happens, do you blame yourself? Do you extend it past the single event and onto the rest of your life? Perhaps a co-worker didn’t accept your invitation to go for a walk over lunch; or worse, she went out for lunch with another co-worker instead. Do you immediately think it must be because you’re not likable at all and nobody likes you?
If something goes wrong in the morning…perhaps you got a flat tire or spilled coffee on your work outfit and had to run home to change. Do you immediately start thinking you’ll get reprimanded by your boss (or worse, fired)? Do you automatically assume that the day is shot and you might as well pack it up and go back to bed?
Do you see everything in black and white or as good and bad — with no middle ground? Do you think you must be absolutely perfect, otherwise you’re just complete rubbish?
If any of that sounds remotely familiar, then there’s a high probability you swing toward pessimism — the polar opposite of optimism, which is commonly defined as the tendency to think that good things will happen in the future. Being an optimist means you’re cheerful, grateful and purpose-filled, and you tend to:
- Look on the bright side (instead of dwelling on the negatives)
- Highlight the victories (instead of being stymied by what went wrong)
- Seek solutions to challenges (instead of constantly finger-pointing at problems)
The benefits of optimism — and staying positive — are countless and include lower stress levels, improved coping skills, higher energy levels, increased resilience, increased creativity, improved well-being, reduced pain, decreased depression, reduced risk of heart attack, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases, increased health span and better quality of life to name a few.
As a seasoned veteran of life, chances are you need to put a little work into transforming your pessimistic thoughts into optimism. Here’s some helpful tips:
- Start your day off right with a mantra, quote or song that gets your mind right.
- Focus on applying optimism to one area of life at a time.
- Quit taking life — and yourself — so seriously.
- Exercise regularly; it’s a natural tonic for your mind and a gateway to the benefits of positive thinking.
- Look at your circle of friends. Are you surrounding yourself with complainers or encouragers?
- Practice gratitude. You can’t help but embrace an abundance mindset when you count your blessings on the regular.
- It may “natural” for you to point out what’s not going right but make it a mindful practice to highlight the positive in every situation — even if it may seem trivial.
“Always look on the bright side of life!” – Monty Python