According to its definition, optimism is the ‘tendency to be hopeful’, a feeling that we can effect change in our lives. In our current situation, it seems increasingly difficult to capture this sensation. Any sense of confidence that things will work out fine is hard to hold on to at the moment. But hanging on to a sense of hope is crucial. Our ability to feel optimistic plays a big part in our well being.
The more positive our thought processes, the more the brain creates new links that make these thoughts more likely to become a reality. So it’s important to catch ourselves when our thoughts are tending towards the negative and re-focus our attention. Negative thinking is unproductive and distracts us from the positives in life.
Exploring The Positives
A good place to start is in the here and now and consider what you can actually control. Take things day by day and address challenges as and when they come up. Our current mood states and how we feel in our body affect how we think – so if we’re feeling good, we’re more likely to have positive thoughts.
Shifting our thinking to what could go right gives us a more balanced picture. Negative thinking patterns leave us feeling angry, frustrated and unable to move forward. We need to challenge these thoughts by building an attitude of acceptance and tolerance.
Optimism has even been linked to better financial health. An optimist feels better about their money, no matter the amount they have. They are also more likely to make positive financial decisions.
They find confidence in their progress and research has found they exhibit more positive and proactive behaviours. For example, they tend to view budgeting as a sure-fire way to stay on top of their finances and generally report less financial stress as a result.
Being enterprising and preparing in advance will ensure you are not in a reactive mode when problems arise. It means taking timely effective action, building confidence in yourself and your ability to cope.
Being optimistic and feeling secure in your ability to handle challenges, does not mean that you don’t face reality. Optimists tend to focus on growth and advancement, anticipating the best possible outcome.
In failure, optimists are often fuelled by their mistakes. They see negative experiences as temporary rather than permanent, hence they see more clearly the possibility of change. Trying to stay optimistic is a way of bracing yourself mentally.
With their favorable view of life, optimists tend to live longer. They are less susceptible to the negative effects of illness and depression. Their immune systems tend to be healthier, their cardiac function improved.
Looking for meaning in the face of adversity makes them more resilient and able to bounce back quickly. They are motivated and energetic with the confidence to pursue their goals and make constructive life improvements.
They have a tendency to focus on what they can control instead of worrying about things they can’t – using motivation and positive energy to work on tackling tasks they know they can accomplish, they seem able to achieve so much more.