Our attitude has a profound effect on the quality of our life. Optimism and pessimism create two completely different realities. By taking a few simple steps to adopt a more positive attitude, you can enjoy both immediate and long term benefits.
“Our attitude toward life determines life’s attitude towards us.” -Earl Nightingale
Increased happiness is one of the immediate positive effect of a more optimistic attitude. The fact is, optimistic people tend to experience much greater personal joy on a day-to-day basis than their pessimistic counterparts.
The prospect of a longer healthier life is also a scientifically proven benefit of living with a positive attitude. In contrast, a negative, pessimistic mindset has been shown to contribute to scores of health challenges including immune disorders, cancer, and heart problems. All other factors being equal, a happier life means a healthier life.
10 Practical steps to a more optimistic attitude
Learning to maintain a positive attitude during stressful times can be challenging. It may take some time before your natural response to almost any situation is optimistic. However, when you consider both the short term and long range benefits, your efforts are bound to pay big dividends. Let’s consider 10 simple steps you can start using immediately to move you in a positive direction.
1) Think Gratitude. A grateful mindset exerts a powerful influence on your outlook. Not only does it make you feel good in the moment, it also shifts your focus in a positive direction. Turn your attention toward your blessings and keep it there. As you focus more on what you are grateful for in your life (even the really small blessings!), you will worry less about anything that may be lacking. As a result, you will experience a more pervasive sense of happiness!
“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others.” -Cicero
2) Choose Happiness. Being happy is not about circumstances or any other outside force. Happiness is a decision we make. Why not make up your mind to embrace happiness, starting now? Go ahead and make a decision. Let your personal identity get all wrapped up in the concept of happiness. Fold it around yourself like a big comfortable blanket.
“The greatest part of our happiness depends on our dispositions, not our circumstances.” -Martha Washington
3) Substitute Challenges for Problems. Subconsciously, the word problem says, “Life is not as it should be.” This causes our energy to be funneled toward repairing something that’s gone wrong. On the other hand, the word challenge sends no such message. Instead of trying to repair a malfunction, our resources are recruited to search for a new opportunity. Seeing an experience as a challenge will focus our attention on a positive outcome.
“The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” -Winston Churchill
4) View Life as a Journey. A journey is an adventure of discovery. When we are on a journey we don’t fear change, we welcome it. We look forward to new and unfamiliar experiences. On a journey we are full of optimism because we are filled with the expectation of a wonderful adventure. This is the perfect attitude to carry with you every day.
5) Stop and Smell the Roses. When you constantly feel rushed and scattered, it can be difficult to maintain an optimistic outlook. Buying out regular opportunities to focus on simple pleasures can help restore a sense of balance to your life. By pausing briefly to really taste your food or enjoy a beautiful piece of music, you remind yourself of the joy of simplicity.
“It is always wise to stop wishing for things long enough to enjoy the fragrance of those now flowering.” -Patrice Gifford
6) Begin Your Day On a Positive Note. Find a few minutes each morning to clear your mind and then think positive thoughts about the upcoming day. Focus on the people and events that bring you joy or a sense of satisfaction. What’s your favorite part of the day going to be? Take some time to look forward to everything that you will enjoy. Now carry that feeling with you all day long, even during the less enjoyable activities. Let your optimism flow into your entire day.
7) Be Positively Aware. Make it a habit to actively search for the positive side of everything. Turn it into a private game. With practice, you will be surprised how easy it becomes to see the not so obvious benefits and pleasures all around you. Being alert to the reasons for optimism also helps move our attention away from the negative side of life.
“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” -Max Planck
You can use words and body language to program your nervous system.
8) Act Out Happy. When you make a conscious effort to walk the walk and talk the talk, your feelings will soon follow. Our personal perspective takes a lot of clues from how we act. If you act like an optimistic person, your mind accepts that as your reality. Try it and see for yourself.
9) Hang Out With Positive People. Use the power of peer influence to feed your sense of optimism. The attitude of the people around us can be a powerful force for good or bad. Seek out the company of those with a sunny disposition and let yourself be influenced by their optimism. Use the group dynamic to your benefit.
10) Do A Gratitude Review Nightly. This is a great way to end your day. Before you go to bed think of at least ten things that you are truly grateful for. Let yourself feel the joy that those things bring to your life. Fall asleep reflecting on your blessings.
“Reflect each day on all you have to be grateful for and you will receive more to be grateful for.” -Chuck Danes
11) Minimize Exposure to Negative Influences. Stop watching, reading, or listening to the news. If you can free yourself from this negative influence it will change your life. Without that pervasive daily dose of despair, you will find it so much easier to focus on positive things in life.
Courtesy of Advanced Life Skills.