Do you find yourself wishing that you could be optimistic more often? Maybe you’ve had occasional stretches of optimism, fueled by success. Then, you default to well-worn habits of pessimism once the success fades. Perhaps you are acquainted with someone who always seem to have a positive outlook on life no matter what and wonder how they do it.
Yes, being consistently optimistic is hard but not impossible. Here are eight steps to achieving consistent optimism:
1. Develop a morning routine
Some of the most optimistic and successful people in the world are early risers with well developed morning routines. They start their days in prayer or quiet meditation. They exercise. They plan their day. They have a good breakfast. Developing a similar morning ritual will give you the physical, emotional, and spiritual energy needed to meet the demands of your day. You wouldn’t think of leaving home without fully charging your electronic device. Don’t leave home without charging your own batteries.
2. Become more intentional
Consistently optimistic people understand the power of being intentional. They do not wait for external circumstances to determine how they should feel. On the subconscious level too many of us operate this way: if x happens, I will feel y. Consistent optimists say, “If x happens, I can choose to feel y or z.” They choose optimism. The good news is that you can learn to consistently choose optimism. One way to develop this ability is to speak positive affirmations to yourself in the present tense. Act as if you are experiencing joy now even if you are not joyful. Smile. Laugh. When you create the expectation that you will have a positive day, an optimistic attitude will likely follow, even when things are not going your way. Don’t make you optimism contingent on some future achievement. Choose optimism now.
3. Surround yourself with positive people
We can all identify them, the people in our lives who always seem to have a smile on their faces and joy in their hearts. Spend time with these people in order to learn the ways of optimism from them.
4. Avoid negative conversations and gossip
Optimists understand that these are detrimental to maintaining a positive attitude. Pay attention to your speech. Ask your friends to hold you accountable when you start to engage in negative conversations.
5. Focus on the journey, not the bottom line
Economists tell us that incentives rule the world. Just give the right incentive and people will do almost anything. The problem with incentives is that it can narrow our focus on achieving a desired result. When we do this, we run the risk of pining for what we do not yet have instead of enjoying what we are doing today to get there. We run the risk of taking short cuts to achieve goals by all necessary means. Optimists instead focus on enjoying the journey, fully aware of the future result they want, but not fixating on it. They find joy in the process of getting there. Let go of the results. Allow the results to flow from following the path with a right attitude.
6. Practice gratitude
As soon as you find yourself slipping into negative patterns of thinking, find things to be grateful for. Don’t underestimate the power of expressing gratitude even for the little blessings we experience everyday but ignore because of our desire for bigger and better things.
7. Assume the best in others
When people let you down, assume that they did not mean to hurt you. Be quick to forgive rather than holding on to grudges. Look for the good in people, even the ones you have a hard time getting along with. Focus on their virtues and let them know how much you appreciate those qualities.
8. Practice everyday
In order to achieve consistent optimism, you must practice everyday. You must practice on the days you feel like it and the days you don’t feel like it. You must practice even if you think it’s a waste of time.
Commit to doing these steps and you will transform your thinking and your life.
Featured photo credit: Joy via flickr.com