Are You Truly An Optimist?
I've always thought I was an optimist.
I believe that life’s big events will turn out for the good. I have faith in the universe.
I hold that I am at choice and can change my circumstance if need be.
Yet, It wasn’t until I started a practice of daily gratitude that I realized I was spending a whole lot of time in the negative.
I became aware that I'm not that good at positively managing day-to-day irritants and interactions. I struggle to keep my mind out of monkey-brain mode.
“I can spin a magnificent negative yarn, and then dwell and dwell.”
So what am I, an optimist or a pessimist?
Hold a world view where they see other people and events in the most favorable light. Optimists have the attitude that they can influence endeavors and events to a positive desirable outcome.
Believe that life is happening to them, they focus on the negative and feel that they have little control over how things will turn out.
Each of us lean toward one of these two mindsets, which is a partial result of inheritance and is partly influenced by life circumstance. We also ebb and flow from one end of the mindset continuum to the other. The good news is that with practice we can become more optimistic.
So, while I still see myself as having an optimist world view, I feel it is worth the effort to consciously work to train my brain to be more positive in day-to-day life.
And science agrees
Research shows that having an optimistic worldview has some very real benefits for your health and productivity.
Optimists have healthier outlooks and tend to live longer than their more pessimistic counterparts; as well, they earn higher incomes and have more successful relationships.
Optimistic have better cardiovascular health and a stronger immune system; they also are less susceptible to the negative effects of illness, fatigue, and depression.
In an 8-year study, the most highly optimistic women were 30% less likely to die from any of the serious illnesses including cancer, heart disease, and stroke.
In addition to practicing gratitude, here are a few tips to increase your optimism. (Read more on Gratitude)
Stop ruminating: humans, especially women, have a tendency to mentally beat issues to a pulp. STOP the negative self-talk. Practice prompted awareness, get a mantra or symbol to remind you to step into the present.
Surround yourself with positive people: people who are curious, generous and compassionate. Leave the pessimists and judgers at home.
Know you are at choice: either change the situation or if you can’t do that, change how you view it and react to it.
Be realistic: understand that not everything comes up roses, but how you cope with your challenges is the ticket.
Find purpose in work and life: when we hold or live with intrinsic purpose, we feel more fulfilled and better equipped to see the glass half full.