By Laxmi Parmeswar, MA MS LPC & eternal optimist!
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Do you see your life as a cup half full or a cup half empty? Do you stop & listen or do you get upset when friends tell you to cheer up and have a positive attitude? Most people want to feel optimistic but are mystified about how to get there. We are surrounded by challenging events, daily stresses, and feel overwhelmed more often than not because our plate of life is full of negativity… But hold on, let’s take a minute to learn how to drink from the cup of optimism!
There is certainly something about optimism that goes far beyond merely being "upbeat" or "perky"- it's a way of thinking and a way of living that actually improves one’s overall sense of wellbeing. Medical studies have clearly shown that pessimism, anger and stress can do a lot of damage to the body. Digestive systems are adversely affected, skin problems occur, your immune system may be compromised and many vital internal organs are damaged under prolonged stress. So, having a bad attitude is not only damaging to your relationships but it is harmful to your own health.
I am usually wary of ‘textbook advice’ from self-proclaimed experts, but the idea of taking charge of one’s level of optimism is a choice worth considering. When we reflect upon the happiest times of our lives, we realize that it has more to do with who we are and how we feel rather than any external situation that bestows happiness upon us. We exude an internal positive energy that helps to create the perfect environment for good things to happen to us. As Henry James said, “Be not afraid of life. Believe that life is worth living, and your belief will help create the fact.”
You may not be fully convinced as yet; but humor me for now! Here are some fundamental strategies to ponder upon and commit to:
Be responsible for developing hope and optimism in your life. It is not anyone else’s job to help you grow and change. It is your life, and you are the only person who can make a significant difference in it. You are the agent of change, so accept this role and make it valuable.
When facing difficulties, the key is to remind yourself not to let it dictate your emotional state. No matter what is happening around you, if you can develop HOPE at the core of your being, you will equip yourself to survive any challenge, any disappointment, any crisis, and any source of stress.
Every hardship, every seemingly impossible thing is actually a brilliant opportunity for you to show just how far you can push yourself to accomplish your goals. Expect some curveballs along the way and accept that they are an inevitable part of life. Whatever comes your way, exude positive energies to those around you, and it will be reflected back to you
Make a conscious effort to replace your negative thoughts and actions with alternate ones. Instead of looking at a task and saying, "It's impossible," just commit to doing it and enjoying the challenge of a job well done. Instead of viewing an illness as "proof" of how hopeless your life is, look at it as your body's way of telling you that something needs to change, and then work on changing it.
And last but not least, don’t dwell on the mistakes you have made in the past. Getting bogged down in the past will make you feel more negative and only hinder your future personal development. Get rid of unwanted psychological baggage. Keep moving forward—it’s a brand new day!
I’m not sure if you’re going to dismiss all of the above, but I’m optimistic about you giving it a try! After all, we don’t get to choose when we’re born or when we’ll die, only how we can live… from this moment forward… So go ahead and take a sip from that cup of optimism… Cheers! You have nothing to lose, except all that negativity and a lot to gain and give to those around you…