Becoming more optimistic is one of the keys to help you overcome obstacles and defeat adversity. But as humans, we have what is called the negativity bias, or the tendency to pay attention to the negatives rather than the positives. It was more important for our ancestors to notice the dangers in their surroundings for survival than finding resources around them. This kind of negative mentality has been built into our minds.
Why Become Optimistic?
Being optimistic is tied to resilience. You can manage stress better and recover more quickly from setbacks and disappointments when you are optimistic. Harvard Business Review also says positive people tend to have better health, and they earn more money. Optimists are more likely to be successful because they persist more than their pessimistic counterparts.
6 Steps to Practice Optimism
1. Identify what makes you negative
What makes you a negative person? Here are some signs of pessimism:
• You always expect the worst.
• You give up fast.
• You don’t give yourself credit for successes and see them as mere products of chance.
• You often find yourself in conflicts.
• You complain about a lot of things.
• You always question other people’s intentions and believe most of them are wrong.
• You hold grudges.
• You’re always making excuses.
I can come up with a lot more signs of being negative. Pause and be honest with yourself. Write down all the thoughts, emotions, and habits that make you a negative person.
2. Identify what specific thoughts or words you think or say when you’re pessimistic
As you identify what makes you a negative person, you may remember some specific scenarios where you may have reacted negatively. Write down the thoughts that came to your mind and words that you have spoken in these situations. For example, if a job opportunity came your way, and you immediately thought that you wouldn’t get accepted because you’re not smart enough, you can write down that negative thought about yourself.
3. Reframe these thoughts and words in a positive way
Take a look at the list of negative thoughts and words on your list. Change these negative thoughts into positive ones. Choose positive words. When you are faced with challenges, look for opportunities to learn, and ways to solve a problem. Challenge your limiting beliefs. If you believe you can’t do something, look for evidence that proves otherwise.
4. Create visual cues from the reframed positive words
Successful leaders and athletes practice visualization techniques to accomplish their goals. In this case, your goal is to become a more positive person. Negative thought patterns are often habits that are tricky to change. It would help if you had these visual cues to help you continue seeing and positively approaching things.
5. Practice positive self-talk daily
Use positive words with yourself and when communicating with others. For every situation, there are always negative and positive truths. Keep looking for the positive facts and support them with proof.
6. Find someone positive to model
Like pessimism, optimism is also contagious. Surround yourself with positive people who lift you. You can also look for a positive person to model. This person doesn’t have to be in your social circle. It can be a public figure who is known for their optimism.
You can’t control every situation in your life, but you can control your attitude and change your outlook. You can be more optimistic.
- Know what makes you negative.
- List down specific thoughts or words that come to mind when you’re negative.
- Positively reframe these thoughts and words.
- Create visual cues from the reframed positive words.
- Create a daily routine of positive self-talk.
- Look for a positive person to imitate.