Martin E. P. Seligman, psychologist, educator and author, in his book Learned Optimism says: “One of the most significant findings in psychology in the last twenty years is that individuals can choose the way they think.” You can choose to think positively and see the good things around you, or you can choose to think negatively and only see the negative things around you. It’s all up to you.
It is advisable, however, that you think more positively. A positive outlook in life makes you happier, healthier and even wealthier in the long run. Of course, stuff happens and unrelenting optimism can sometimes be contrived and irresponsible. But being optimistic is not about unrelenting optimism; it’s about trusting that good will happen while also preparing for the worst.
Here are a few things optimists do differently you can emulate today to look on the brighter side of life.
1. You count your blessings.
It all starts with counting your blessings. While others moan and groan, optimists take stock of the good things around them. It does not stop there; optimists also take inventory of what’s not so great. They are grateful for obstacles, hardships and even failures because these are anchor points for resilience and wisdom. Optimists know what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger.
2. You make the most of all opportunities.
Optimists believe in making optimal use of the opportunities life throws at them. They are not blind, in denial or naïve to the risks and dangers involved in taking chances, but rather look at the bigger picture, the resources available and then make every opportunity count for a much brighter future full of possibilities. Optimists are simply positive, visionary realists, not idealists.
3. You believe in yourself.
While others cower and doubt their own abilities, optimists believe they are good enough just the way they are and constantly strive to get better. They trust their own intuition and abilities when carrying out their day-to-day activities. Optimists simply won’t judge or criticize themselves against a set of arbitrary, unrealistic, third party beliefs and ideals, such as those from popular media or peers. They don’t need everyone’s approval; they just do what feels right in their hearts.
4. You also believe in others.
Optimists not only believe in themselves, but also in other people in their lives. They inspire others to be the best they can be. They know that when you treat a person as he or she is, that person will remain so. But if you treat a person as he or she ought to be, that person will become what he or she ought be. Optimists simply see sparks of good in others — sparks that everyone else won’t see — and work to turn the sparks into a roaring flame.
5. You use positive self-talk to reinforce actions.
Optimists do not allow present circumstances or environment to dictate their attitude and mood. They use positive self-talk to express their hopes and to reinforce good attitudes, outcomes and actions. If things are not going too well, they say things like “I know there’s a problem here, but I can solve it” and keep going. When they succeed at something, they say things like “That’s just as I had anticipated; I worked hard and it paid off.” In a similar situation, a pessimist might say: “Boy, was I lucky to close that deal!”
6. You turn envy and jealousy into catalysts for success.
Everybody gets a little jealous sometimes. While others burn with envy, optimists realize that the universe does not owe them anything because someone else is successful and they are not. However, the universe might owe you something when you work hard to better yourself. Instead of burning with anger and jealousy, optimists use other people’s success as motivation to work hard and bring success.
7. You don’t make bad experiences a self-fulfilling prophecy of what lies ahead.
Just because you failed or suffered today doesn’t mean you will fail or suffer tomorrow. Good things come to those who persist and overcome challenges. Optimists do not let past misfortunes determine their future success. They know that bad experiences make you stronger and the path to success clearer.
8. You choose not to blame others.
People tend to point fingers at others when things are not going well. They blame their family, politicians and even the economy for their problems. Optimists choose not to blame others because they know others don’t hold complete control over them. There is always something you can do to make things better. Change starts from within, and where there is a will there is always a way.
9. You forgive.
Optimists know better than to underestimate the power of forgiveness. Martin Luther King Jr. fought hate with love. He recognized the past is the past and forgiveness was the path to a better future for everyone. Optimists, therefore, forgive and forge ahead. They know tomorrow is another day and another opportunity to correct what needs correcting and create a brighter reality.
Are you an optimist?