Life is better when you are optimistic and have hope. Our last blog post looked at the benefits of these attributes which included healthier lives. But just because we know something is good for us, it doesn’t mean we know how to make it a part of what we do. If you have spent most of your years looking at the world through “glass half empty” glasses, it can be difficult to know where to even start changing that. This blog post gives you our five top ways of getting started.
There’s a phrase that gets thrown around that goes something like this: “if you have a roof over your head, three meals a day and a way to keep warm, then you are better off than 90% of the people on this planet”. I don’t know how accurate that is, but I do know that there are plenty of others that are far worse off than ourselves.
The trouble is our expectations change depending on what we already have. We soon get used to a certain way of life and start taking things for granted. Instead of thinking about what we have, we focus on what’s missing – the things we want to have.
Spending a few minutes each day being grateful for what you do have can change your perspective on life and make you far more hopeful and optimistic. It can be as simple as appreciating a smile someone gave you or the clean, fresh water that runs out when you turn on your kitchen tap.
Mindfulness has grown in popularity in recent years and as a result is receiving more attention. There are now hundreds of studies that have been carried out looking at its benefits. Positive moods such as hope and optimism have been shown to be associated with the left hand side of the brain. The vast majority of us favour one side of the brain over the other. However, scientists have discovered that those who lean towards using their right side can change this by regularly practising mindfulness.
Make mindfulness a part of your routine and you could find yourself feeling far more optimistic and hopeful. It’s also worth mentioning that mindfulness has been associated with a whole array of health benefits too so there’s plenty of reasons to give it a go.
3. Positive Reframing
Experts believe that we have somewhere in the region of 60,000 - 80,000 thoughts a day. Many of these we will be subconscious. However, we’ll all be able to think of examples when we have had negative thoughts such as:
They can become so automatic that we can spend much of the day thinking thoughts such as these without being entirely aware.
With positive reframing, you watch out for those negative thoughts and then change them around. For example, it could be as gentle as going from “I can’t do that” to simply adding the word “now”. Even better would be, “I’m not sure how to do that but I’m going to discover how”.
If something’s gone wrong during the day, we can convince ourselves that the day has been a disaster. With positive reframing, you can look for what you have gained from your day as soon as those thoughts appear.
4. Surround Yourself With Positivity
It can be hard to be optimistic or hopeful if you are surrounded by people who tend to be negative. Every time you tell yourself that you could achieve that goal, they’ll be ready to point out all the pitfalls and will soon convince you not to get your hopes up!
It’s therefore important to ensure you find other positive people to spend time with. They will encourage you and hearing their optimism will start to rub off on you, making it much easier for you to change your way of thinking.
5. Turn Off The News
We are surrounded by the news. Rather than it being something that was available a couple of times a day, it’s now accessible 24 hours a day. When there’s a big event or disaster, breaking news fills our screens for hour after hour. It’s also discussed non-stop on social media platforms.
However, it skews our sense of reality. It reports on the few negative things that happen in the world and ignores the many positive experiences that we have. It can be hard to be optimistic in the face of so much doom and gloom.
Turn it off and instead get outside in nature which will also help you feel more positive.
If you struggle to be optimistic or hopeful then trying to do all these steps at once could be overwhelming. Choose one and give it a go for a few weeks and don’t forget to let me know how you get on.
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