Houston, we have a problem. Optimistic
There’s such a large amount of negativity going around these days! Even people who wouldn’t generally consider themselves negative, are exactly that. Negative, negative, negative. We focus on the bad, the tough, and the hard stuff.
In all honesty, I have no clue. I’m not built that way. I am (well, most of the time) 100 % positively optimistic.
Impossible, you say? It sure isn’t!
Here are 11 steps you can take (that I took some years ago!) to become more of a sunbeam rather than a rain cloud:
1. Listen to your inner voice
Find out whether your inner voice is generally optimistic or pessimistic. If it already has a tendency to the positive side – great! This will be easier than you thought. If it’s more of a negative one, though, it’s time to switch it around. “Fake it till you make it”, they say, and that pretty much works here. Pretend to feel happy and positive. Change your mood around whenever you feel pessimism coming along. Think of things that make you happy and grateful.
2. Put yourself on thought watch
Pay further attention to those thoughts of yours. I call this a “thought watch”, since you’re trying to watch your thoughts. Whenever a negative one pops up, call him out and turn him around. Whatever it is you’re thinking (eg. “I’m not good enough”, “no one likes me”, “I can’t do anything right”, etc.), make sure to flip it 180 degrees (instead you’d say “I’m great”, “everybody loves me”, “I can do anything I take on”, etc.). In fact, turn everything bad that happens to you around, into something positive. Find opportunity in difficulty. It is possible, if you look long and hard.
3. Focus on the present
Neither the past nor the future have anything to do with what you’re presently doing. The only thing the past and the future can bring you is anxiety and grief. Instead, live in the present; make the most of life. Enjoy the crazy ride that life can be. In order for your future to be great, your present has to work.
4. Stop blaming yourself
All bad things that happen are not your fault. Read that line again. All bad things that happen are not your fault. So stop blaming yourself for the bad things that happen to you, or for the bad things that people do to you. Not everything is your fault. There are a lot of things you cannot control. And the things that you can control, are about to become a lot better with this new positive attitude of yours!
5. Make time for me-time
Schedule it in! Give yourself at least 30 minutes every week where you do something for yourself – something that you like doing, that will relax you. So, so important. This will help you slow down and become more mindful, which is exactly what you need in order to watch your thoughts.
6. Find positive quotes
Surround yourself with good, optimistic and inspirational quotes. “Anything is possible” is a good one. But whatever works for you, print those quotes out – maybe put them in frames, even – and put them in places where you’ll see them as often as possible. Oh, and the cheesier the quote, the better! Whatever makes you smile more! 🙂
7. Make optimistic friends
I cannot stress enough how important it is to surround yourself with the right people. Pessimistic people are only going to bring you down, but optimistic people will – yes, you guessed it! – bring you way up. Sort out your friends, and make sure they’re worth your attention, and that they’re providing you with the positive energy that you need.
8. Stop comparing yourself to others
Again, something so incredibly important. No one can be truly happy if they keep comparing themselves to others and what others have. You will always find things that others have that you don’t have – that’s a certainty. But remember, you also have plenty of things that others wish they had. Be grateful for the things you have, rather than regretful for the things you don’t have.
9. Keep a gratitude journal
Every day, think of what you are grateful for in your life. Go through the whole list! (I tend to do this in the morning.) And then, every night before bed, write down – either on a piece of paper to put in a Happiness Jar, or in a journal – something special that made you happy during the course of that day. This will be a very well-spent and well-invested five minutes of your day, because it will set your mood right, both at morning, starting the day off, and at night, when you’re finishing everything off.
10. Compliment yourself
Give yourself compliments when you do good things and get things right. Don’t rely on others to compliment you (even though I’m sure they will!), but start relying on yourself, and be proud of yourself. It’s you right as a human being.
11. Smile more
It’s been scientifically proven that people who smile more are happier. Well, duh… you might think. And yes, of course that makes sense, but studies have shown that just putting a pen in your mouth (which causes the same muscles to move as when you actually smile) will make you feel happier, because that’s the signal your muscles are sending through your body. So smile! As often and as big as you possibly can. Life is so beautiful you know!
Something important to keep in mind through these steps, is that big personality changes like these take time. So be kind to yourself and be patient. It’s totally OK to take a step back as long as you try your hardest to take another two steps forward. These kind of changes are hard, but they can be done with the right amount of will-power and the right support (hence the friend part is so important!).
Allow yourself to have some bad days, too, every now and then – we all have them, and it’s only natural and human to have good and bad days. Life is a roller coaster, after all. Just make sure not to dwell on the bad days. If you tend to do so, try to find some form of distraction instead, to keep your mind too busy to be negative.
Once you see that your days are more positive than negative, you are becoming an optimist! Know that you always have a choice, and that your circumstances do not create you, but you create your circumstances.
Good luck! I believe in you!