Optimism: things are better than they look

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How do you see the world? Do you leap out of bed ready to embrace a day of possibilities? Or hide under the covers thinking of all the ways you’ll mess things up? Are you a glass half full or half empty person? Are you an optimist or a pessimist?

Optimists live longer!

The way we think guides how we feel about ourselves and the world around us. It’s no surprise that optimists tend to be happier – regardless of their circumstances, but research also shows that optimists live longer, with lower rates of hypertension, heart disease and cancer.1

Optimists also tend not to be overwhelmed when things go wrong, and they bounce back more quickly by accepting what they can’t control and building a plan for the things they can. Great qualities for times like these.

You can change the way you think

Optimists aren’t blind to the bad times. They just interpret them differently. And most importantly, they’re more likely to take action.

If you can’t see the diagram below, you can view it here.

 

Optimism graphic 1

 

While you might have a predisposition to think in a certain way, you can change it. Here’s how:

1. Observe your “explanatory style”. This is psychologist-speak for how you explain the world to yourself — that little voice in your head or those feelings you get when something doesn’t go your way. Overall, is it positive or negative?

2. Use the chart below to go deeper. Where do your thoughts take you? Are they all on the right or are some closer to the left?

If you can’t see the diagram below, you can view it here.

 

Optimism graphic 2

 

3. Break down the situation into smaller chunks. Look for things that might be temporary or that have limited impact. This will calm you down a bit.

4. Look for things that you can control and act on them. Action always feels better than inaction and worry.

5. Remind yourself optimism is a choice not a gift. Look for hope in your situation and if you’re struggling, talk it through with someone else and ask for help building a plan.

Building resilience

Changing the way you think takes practice, and you will get better at it with time. We’ve provided a real world-example that you can download here to help you get the hang of it.

 

BUILD YOUR RESILIENCE

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15 Unbelievable Facts About Optimists”, Carpenter, Derrick, www.verywellmind.com, June 28, 2020.

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