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Are you Optimistic or Pessimistic? 5 Steps to Creating an Optimistic Outlook

May 24, 2022

Why is it that some people are optimistic and assume things will work out or turn out well, while other people are mostly pessimistic and focus on all the possible negative outcomes? It has to do with how our brains are wired. Based on human nature, we are wired to focus more on the negative things. That is because they typically bring about “negative” emotions and human nature is to want to avoid these negative emotions. Because of this, our primitive brains think that if they keep us focusing on past negative things, or potential negative things, then we can somehow protect ourselves from them, however, as you and I both know…this often just leaves us feeling bad anticipating negative things that will likely never happen

People who are optimistic choose to be that way. It may be easier for them because they have some real-life experiences that have gone well for them which help them consider more positive things happening in the future, however, they are choosing to direct their attention towards the positive things and away from the negative things that could happen. These are not individuals who don’t live in reality, but rather people who choose not to worry about negative things that “might” happen in the future, until they actually happen.

 

The thoughts you carry around most in your brain, will attract other similar thoughts. So, if you have thoughts that are positive, hopeful, and/or optimistic, you will have more of those types of thoughts. Your positive, hopeful, and optimistic thoughts will generate “positive” emotions, that will influence actions you take in your life, which will impact the results you get in your life. This is why optimistic and positive people often experience more happiness, success, and life fulfillment.

 

On the other hand, if you have thoughts that are negative, doubtful, and pessimistic, you will have more of those types of thoughts. Your negative thoughts generate “negative” emotions, which influence actions you take in your life, which will impact the results you get in your life. This is why pessimistic and negative people often experience more sadness, anger, frustration, and challenges in their lives.

 

If you would like to be more positive and optimistic, you are completely in control of that. The way you think is something that you learned and has been conditioned over time. That means you can unlearn it and condition a new way of thinking. The key is that you have to decide this is what you want, and then make the commitment, of a little bit of time each week, to create or reinforce the neural pathways that will result in more positivity and optimism. This will also result in less activity in the neural pathways that support negativity and pessimism, which will, over time, change your default thinking pattern. The key to this process is consistency and repetition. Your brain will do what you tell it to do repeatedly. Practice the 5 steps below daily to create a more optimistic outlook and increased positive emotions.

5 steps to creating a more optimistic outlook and increased positive emotions.

  • Tell your brain what to think. It will follow what you tell it to do. Every morning tell yourself, “I choose to be positive and optimistic today”.

  • Next, tell yourself, “Today will be a good day because _____________”. Fill in the blank with something that you believe will contribute to the day being a good day. It could be something like, “Dinner is already prepped for tonight”, or “I will be wrapping up a big work project”, or “I will text my sister to check in”, or “It’s sunny and I will get some sunshine and fresh air for 10 minutes”, or “I had a good night’s sleep”, or “I have my yoga class”.

 

  • Set alarms on your phone to go off at least three times throughout the day. Change the word “alarm” to say something like, “I’m optimistic”. When each alarm goes off, go back to the first step and tell yourself, “I choose to be positive and optimistic today”.  Then notice if you have been focusing more on negative things or positive things and regroup if needed. What is important to note here is that there will be hard things that happen. There will be things you don’t like or that don’t feel good, and the goal is not to pretend they are not happening. The goal is to address what you can when these things come up and then to choose not to spend all your mental energy focusing on them. The goal is to regroup, make sure you are noticing the good things happening, and allow those to drive your outlook and how you feel.

 

  • At the end of each day, write down 1-3 things that you are grateful for from the day. These can be small things that you might otherwise not give much attention to. Examples of this may be, “I am grateful for the nice snuggles with my child when I got home”, or “I am grateful that my bills are paid and I had money to get a nice cup of coffee this morning”, or “I am grateful that my friend reached out about grabbing dinner next week”, or “I am grateful for my coworkers who made me laugh during a stressful day”. When you do this, you are deciding where to focus your attention. Instead of focusing on the tantrum your child had at bedtime, you are focusing on the snuggles when you got home. Instead of focusing on how stressful your workday was, you are focusing on the laughs you had with coworkers. It makes a difference in how you feel overall and helps store those events in your longer-term memory instead of them just going off the radar, so that all you have are the memories of the harder things that happen each day.

 

  • Finally, when you are going to bed tell yourself, “Today was a good day, and tomorrow will be a good day too”. This will help your brain reflect on this as you sleep, rather than replaying all your challenges from the day.

 

As I mentioned, consistency and repetition are what will make the difference for you. None of these steps take a long time, but they can have a major impact when done on a regular basis. When you are positive and feeling good, you attract different things into your life that are in alignment with your positive outlook. If you are looking for more strategies and resources to help you manage your mind, join my community, and receive my weekly newsletter HERE.

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