One of the most common questions my Life Coaching clients ask me is how to become more of an optimist. If it doesn’t come naturally it can be a really hard mindset to get into as you are so “programmed” to be thinking in a particular way. It’s effectively making yourself change a habit. Because that is what a mindset is…a habit.
So I’d like to share three “habits” that you can adopt to help you to get started. I try to use these every day to stay optimistic in pretty much any situation(!!)
NB: I would like to add a caveat that it may sometimes take a while before I find an optimistic thread of thought but these three habits usually help me to get there in the end!
1. Ask yourself questions that allow you see the optimistic viewpoint.
When you’re in what seems like a negative situation the most common way of making something better out of that is to ask yourself questions that promote optimism and helps to find solutions.
These could be:
- What is one thing that is positive or good about this situation?
- What is one thing I can learn from this situation?
- What is one opportunity within this situation?
These questions are not something that I can always use right away. Smashing the wing mirror off my car because I didn’t see the bollard was one recent occasion that immediately springs to mind where it was more of a challenge to “find the positive!”
Sometimes we will need some time to process and accept the feelings and thoughts that arise from frustrating situations. However, after a bit of time, when those thoughts and feelings have mostly passed, you can move on to ask yourself the other questions (in my case I learnt that I need to look and look again for any rather large, immovable objects to avoid! The opportunity that arose from the situation was that I found a brilliant garage near to where I live that will now be my go-to for all car repairs as it is so much cheaper that the old garage I used to go to…so you see- there was a happy ending!)
2. Get optimistic support from the world around you.
One of the most important factors if you want to be able to stay optimistic are the influences around you. Optimism is – just like enthusiasm – contagious.
So find ways to create an environment that supports you.
- The people in your life. Try to spend more time with optimistic people and less time with people who seem to always be negative about things and “sap” positivity. Positive people will support you, add upbeat energy and can help you to find a constructive change in perspective when you have a situation that is bringing you down.
- The information you let into your mind. One of the simplest things you can do to create and support your own optimism is simply to regularly read blogs and books and listen to or watch recordings created by optimistic people.
3. Start your day in an optimism creating way.
The way you start your day often sets the tone for the rest of it.
A stress-free morning leads to less stress and better focus during your day. So how can you help yourself to achieve this? What can you do the night before in order to have a calm start to the following day?
A work out early in your day leads to more energy throughout the day. Can you shift your daily rhythm to allow for this?
Optimism while you are eating your cereal or traveling to work or doing the schoolrun can help you to stay positive and constructive as you go through the ups and downs of your day.
Three practical ways to get this good start is to:
- Read or watch something optimistic or funny for 10-20 minutes during your morning.
- Have an uplifting conversation over breakfast or early in your day…one I do with my kids is “Three things I am looking forward to today”. (My four year old’s stock answer of “lunch” needs work though!)
- Listen to a motivating audiobook or podcast as you ride the bus, your bicycle or while you’re walking somewhere. Remember-surrounding yourself in a positive outlook is going to seep into your DNA and help you to start thinking this way.
I hope that gives food for thought…and gives you the confidence that a more positive outlook CAN be achieved with regular shifts in habit.