It is widely understood that what happens inside your brain influences what happens to your body, and consciously cultivating a positive outlook on life is no different. Looking on the bright side isn’t always easy, but there are some practical reasons why you should (and can) adopt an optimistic perspective.
Benefits of Being Optimistic
When you have a positive mindset on what’s ahead, it is easier to feel more enjoyment in the present, and you will probably live longer with far fewer health problems. Research also shows a strong link between optimism and positive health benefits, such as better weight control, healthier blood sugar levels, and a decreased chance for heart disease. That same study, conducted by Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, also suggests positivity can play “an important role in adaptation to chronic illness.”
Although the benefits are striking, it isn’t always easy to be positive. In fact, some may feel it is far easier to think of worst-case scenarios while finding faults and imperfections in everything. But what if you could turn your thinking around in just one day? According to one study, conducting a five-minute-long thought exercise each day — where you positively visualize your future self — can significantly increase optimism after both one day and two full weeks of practice. It might be just that simple.
There are other simple ways to train yourself to become more positive, with the goal of feeling more happy, content and calm each day — no matter what may be happening in your personal or professional life.
1. Recognize and Reflect on a Positive Event Each Day
This can take the form of a simple mental acknowledgement, a journal entry, or can even be brought up during a conversation among friends. Once this act becomes more comfortable, a daily gratitude journal is also a great way to promote consistently positive thinking.
2. Identify a Personal Strength
Rather than focusing on all the ways you may be falling short, or where you’ve went wrong over the course of a day, try recalibrating to notice your unique personal strengths and how you use them. Maybe it’s a hidden talent, area of expertise, or special personality trait.
3. Set an Attainable Goal and Note Your Progress
Nothing can send a person into a negative tailspin quite like falling short of a goal. To start feeling more confident and happy, set attainable goals (such as a micro-goal) that you can achieve, celebrating each small increment of progress along the way
4. Reframe Stressful Situations into Opportunities to be Positive.
Perhaps you have heard the saying, “when one door closes a window opens.” It’s simple, but reappraising an event in a positive light can be an easy way to remember to find the silver lining in difficult situations. Maybe you missed your exit, for instance, but in taking the road less traveled, you are able to experience new places you would not have otherwise.
5. Practice Mindfulness
When you focus on the here and now rather than the past or future, you open yourself up to better enjoying each day and new experience. Focus on finding pleasure in all the small moments throughout your day and consciously choose to acknowledge them.
Put Optimism into Practice
Change is never easy, but taking a little bit of time each day to recalibrate your mindset can have a serious long-term positive impact. The smallest adjustments to your thinking and routines can make you more a more optimistic person over time — whether it comes naturally to you or not.