The Perks Of Being An Optimist

I am a half glass full type of gal. I don’t think I’m annoying about it. I don’t think I’m an “EVERYTHING IS JUST GREAT!!!!!!” type of person. I just generally choose to find the silver lining in most situations.

It’s easy to be an optimist at the Heatley Cliff because everything is so wonderful and lovely and I don’t have to cook dinner every night or worry about deadlines and Alexander Skarsgard polishes the silver with a fair amount of vigor in plain view (my request) on a regular basis.

But real life is hard and full of challenges. As Jerry Maquire eloquently said, “We live in a cynical world,” and we do. It’s difficult to stay positive when there are so many mean-spirited people in our daily lives and littering our media consumption. Not many pundits (or Real Housewives) out there adopt the “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything” philosophy. I find many people to be simply rude for rude’s sake and ready to bully others whom they deem inferior with criticism that is far from constructive.

I have also realized the propensity for happiness, or staying positive may well be in the genes. Some people are tall, some are short. Some have black hair, others blonde and some find it easier to look on the bright side than others.

If you find that this is not in your nature, don’t dismiss the notion of being an optimist just because you don’t think that’s who you are. Life is easier, trust me,when you approach it with positivity. So here are a few tips I’ve picked up that might help you realign your approach and learn to look on the bright side

  • Happiness really is a choice. How you choose to frame the events that unfold around you can and will determine how you internalize them. It may just be a ‘fake it ’til you make it’ type of situation, and that’s okay. Firmly deciding that you are going to look for the life lessons in even the crappiest of turns is the best way of combating a bad attitude. When your attitude is good, it’s easier to move on and let go of life’s let downs.
  • My personal motto is You Are More Than This Moment. What I mean by this is, acknowledge the great things that happen to you and accept you might have no control over the more negative things. You are more than your best day, and you are more than your worst day. Either way, the moments will pass and you are a collection of all of them together, so don’t hang on to individual ones. Hanging on to only the great ones will leave you ungrounded and unprepared and hanging on to the crap ones will only make you feel worse.
  • Find something each day, however small or trivial it might seem, to look forward to. Maybe it’s just as simple as the feeling you’ll have after a great yoga session or a yummy dinner. Maybe it’s more epic, like Game of Thrones returning.  Just the act of looking forward to something will help you keep a more positive frame of mind.
  • You don’t need to make excuses, defend or justify what others may deem as indulgent acts if those acts will, in the long run relieve tension and brighten your mood. Obviously, this does not mean you can hurt others or yourself. I’m talking about taking the time to get that massage or spending the afternoon in a bookstore or taking a weekend to yourself to visit an old friend. Moms are the worst at thinking they don’t deserve these little perks. Maybe it is selfish, but so what? It’s okay to put yourself first once in a while. In fact, it’s great for your mental health. Doing so can disperse those little resentments that pile up and lead to real unhappiness.
  • Laugh. Laugh at yourself, laugh with your friends and your family. Humor is one of the best ways of putting things into perspective.
  • Come as often as possible from a place of yes. Have a great idea? Assume it will happen and approach it that way. If the logistics don’t line up and it doesn’t work, oh well – you’ll get ’em next time. When you automatically think ‘no, that will never work’ every time you come up with a prospective plan, guess what? It will never happen because you put the kibosh on it before it even had a chance to breathe.  Say yes more than you say no. Of course, sometimes you have to say no, and that’s okay too, as long you’re saying yes more often.
  • Sometimes, you have to project yourself into the future. If you can imagine yourself a decade from now, will that version of you be affected by the fact that today, the barista got your coffee order wrong? Or that guy didn’t call you after your date? Or that fight you had with sister over her borrowing your sweater? MOST of time, your future self will only be able to recall that experience through time travel. Without it, trust me – you would never remember.
  • Don’t be mean. Don’t make jokes at other people’s expense. Don’t gossip. Personally, I find not gossiping to be super hard. When I fight this battle and win, though?  I’m always better for it, for not creating that negative energy and staying classy.
  • You will fail. You will have terrible, horrible days. You will wonder the hell is going on and you will feel like the whole world is against you. Just know this, you will become a better, stronger and wiser person with each failure. You cannot learn anything about your mettle if you are always winning. Character is built with every stumble while bravado and entitlement is bred all too easily with success. However horrible that moment in time is, it will pass. I promise. Choosing to find the lesson in it, choosing to be optimistic, will be the difference between a sense of peace as opposed to bitterness.
  • Does the very fact that I just said that annoy you? Are you thinking, “My dog just died and you want me to think about the life lesson in that? That is bullshizz.” No. What I am saying is that you will feel miserable sometimes, but an optimist knows that it is his or her choice to eventually let that misery go (barring a real mental health problem – but even then asking and getting help is really an optimistic thing to do.) More than anything, positivity relies on faith, in yourself.   It relies on knowing that you don’t need to hold onto that anger or misery or sadness, because eventually, possibly even years from now, that experience will reveal itself more clearly to you. You will understand how it changed you, made you stronger more open and more empathetic to others. That’s probably the hardest part of optimism, having the patience to hold steady.

If you feel like you do this already, Bravo, happy friend! If you feel like you know some people who could use this advice, pass it along… in the nicest way possible of course.

Featured image via Shutterstock

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