Last week, I talked about professional goals and the importance of setting measurable and attainable goals as we head into the new year (and decade).
Now, I want to talk about a topic near and dear to my heart.
And one that’s super important to help us set the right mindset as we move into 2020.
Sometimes the world can seem like a pretty tough place—that seems to be especially true lately.
It’s been a rough year for many.
Maybe because of the tough political climate.
Or because it’s the end of the decade.
Maybe because someone, somewhere turned their back on a rainbow and we are all paying.
DARN YOU, you rainbow hater!
Which means it’s time for an optimism intervention … ~trigger imaginary rainbow confetti~ …
Why Should You Be Optimistic?
It’s important to understand the value of optimism.
A big misconception is that optimism is all about fluffy idealism when that’s really not the case.
In actuality, optimism is about gratitude, resilience, and ownership.
Optimism is the ability to see opportunity even in non-optimal circumstances.
It’s the complete acceptance that you are in control of the life and world you create.
Each day, you make a decision about how you view various circumstances and what you can do about them.
Optimism affects those decisions.
Optimism is difficult.
Not because it’s a fantasy, but because it is the ULTIMATE responsibility.
Entrepreneurs and Optimism
Kind of sounds like a good trait for an entrepreneur or business leader, eh?
In addition, there are many psychological and physical health benefits to optimism.
Studies have shown optimistic people live longer, have lower blood pressure, are three times less likely to have a heart attack, and have better overall health.
How to Be Optimistic
I’m not a psychologist, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night. (OK, I didn’t do that either … work with me here people.)
In my experience, the following perspectives will help you become optimistic, even when you feel like Oscar the Grouch.
Before you react to a situation stop, drop, and reframe it in your head.
Challenge yourself to look at all the potential positive outcomes of the perceived negative situation.
This might be difficult at first, so don’t be afraid to be a bit outrageous in the things you come up with—just to let your brain get used to seeing something from a more optimistic perspective.
One technique I use often is changing my tone.
This helps me adjust my perspective immediately.
When you shift your tone you start to realize how ridiculous some of the self-talk you are using actually is.
And that mere acknowledgment of that helps you alter your POV.
A big part of optimism is understanding you are not a victim in your life.
You always have a choice.
That choice might not be exactly what you planned or envisioned, and that’s OK.
It might require some agility in mindset and spirit, that’s OK, too.
You are up to the challenge.
You are never a victim.
It’s up to you to make the choice.
Choosing to be optimistic also means choosing to take responsibility for the fact the world you live in is based on your choices.
Look at the Long-Term
It’s very hard to evaluate situations in the present or short-term.
The acute pain of negative situations can often blind us to long-term solutions or choices.
I guarantee if you look back on your life you’ll find some of the worst situations lead to something great—just not immediately.
I often remind myself I don’t need to understand the path I’m on to know I’m going in the right direction.
Optimism Is a Habit
While it might be more natural for some people to be optimistic than others, optimism is a behavior—which means you can retrain yourself to have a more optimistic perspective.
You can’t break old habits, but you can build new neural pathways.
Line those pathways with rainbows and make them lead to some optimism.
Good News Is All Around … Look For It!
It can be challenging to realign your perspective if you are constantly surrounded by bad news.
And that can often seem the case.
But good news is all around us.
You sometimes just have to look a bit harder to see it.
For example, let’s start with the obvious: every day the sun rises and sets and that’s a miracle.
No matter what your definition of a miracle is, that is one.
You don’t have to think about it, you don’t have to argue with anyone about it, you don’t have to put it on your to-do list, all you need to do is appreciate it … because it IS and it’s amazing.
Likewise, you are able to read. In fact, you are doing it right now!
Yay! Go you!!
And, when you think about it, isn’t the ability to read a pretty amazing thing?
Take a moment, break it down, and really think about how completely awesome it is that reading exists.
And we can use that to communicate feelings, emotions, and thoughts.
Like whoa, right?
These interspecies friends love each other.
And this piece of motivational toast wants to wish you a great day.
How can you say no to that piece of toast?
So go out and have a great day.
(Spoiler alert: the awesome thing about being optimistic is that it WILL be a great day, simply because you make it so.)