Optimism doesn’t mean engaging in wishful or fantastic thinking. It’s a way of looking at the world that gives more control to the optimist as being at least partly responsible when life is going well. According to studies optimists have healthier outlooks and tend to live longer than their more pessimistic counterparts; they also are less susceptible to the negative effects of illness, fatigue, and depression.
Benefits of being optimistic.People who are more optimistic have better pain management, improved immune and cardiovascular function, and greater physical functioning. Optimism helps buffer the negative effects of physical illness and is associated with better health outcomes in general. Optimists tend to look for meaning in adversity, which can make them more resilient.
A study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health found that the most optimistic women were 30 percent less likely to die from any of the serious illnesses tracked during the 8-year time period, including cancer, heart disease and stroke.
So, how can we train ourselves to be more optimistic?
1. Shift to looking at things through a positive lens.
By shifting your perspective you can help build your optimism. Consciously shift your thoughts to look at things more positively. Making this conscious effort not only shifts your viewpoint in the short term, but it can actually train your brain to think more positively.
2. Pay attention to who you hang out with.
We all have those friends who are chronic complainers or gossipers. After spending time with them we can find ourselves starting to join in with them. It’s clear: Negativity is contagious. Luckily, positive emotions can be contagious, too. Which means it’s time to add some optimists to your network.
It’s time to start noticing who you spend time with on a daily basis. If you start connecting to people who are optimistic and grounded in life, you will start to be affected by their positive energy. Plus, try to limit the time you are spending with negative people.
3. Turn off the news.
One of the quickest ways to feel like everything is going wrong is to pay attention to the news. The news feeds into our negative ideas about the world around us. If you want to know what is going on, go online and research in quick sound bites. Don’t immerse yourself in the negative.
4. Pay attention to what you can and cannot control.
Positive people are able to adapt and tend to be better at knowing what they can control and what they cannot. They don’t put energy into worrying about things they cannot control.
5. Keep a gratitude journal
Gratitude journaling is one of the best ways to bring attention to the positive things you have in your life. Our brains are hardwired to look at the negative so that constant reminder to look at the positive helps us rewire.
This week's creative exercise is to keep a Gratitude journal. Try it for 21 days, set a reminder on your phone for either the morning or the evening and jot down 5 things you are grateful for.
We will release a video on Thursday where we will be making a small gratitude journal to start our daily practice.
If you want to get started right now. Put a small journal and pen beside your bed and either first thing in the morning or last thing at night write down 5 things you are grateful for.
Have an Amazingly Creative Day,