Turn Setbacks into Setups
Are You A Half Full Or Half Empty Kind Of Person?
June 11, 2019
In today’s world, optimism sometimes feels too idealistic, and not very practical. It’s hard to be optimistic when we’re faced with negative personal situations, or a negative greater environment out there in the world. But it’s worth noting that optimism has a ton of benefits, including lowering our stress and anxiety, helping us feel “settled” in our purpose and life. Studies show that people with an optimistic outlook on life enjoy better health, find more career success, live longer, and more.
But if you aren’t glass-half-full kind of person…is it possible to become an optimist?
Luckily, optimism is a habit of our personality, an ingrained thought process—and just like all other habits, it’s something that you can gradually improve with time. If you want to start finding the positive highlight of any situation, no matter how dire, these tips might help you change your mindset and rewire your brain.
Recontextualize Negative Thoughts
Bad things happen. It’s just a part of life. But it’s important to put these negative outcomes in context.
Pessimists tend to see patterns in every single hardship, foreseeing future problems based on one event. For example, one failed interview becomes “No one will ever hire me,” or a bad breakup becomes “I’ll never find someone who can put up with me.” But entertaining these negative thoughts on a regular basis can shake your confidence, meaning that your worries instead become self-fulfilling prophecies.
On the other hand, a healthier, more optimistic outlook can help you be optimistic and realistic, without being impractically positive. For example, you might remember that you’re trying your best, that one bad outcome doesn’t predict a chain of them, and that you’ll be alright no matter what happens.
Be Grateful More Often
We all have things we’re grateful for, things that give us a leg up in life. Maybe you’re fortunate enough to have a caring family, or a lasting long-term relationship. Maybe you enjoy good health, or you’ve gained inner strength through a recent hardship. Or maybe it’s something simple like getting to experience sunshine on your morning commute as opposed to bad weather.
Taking a moment to stop and realize your good fortune is a great way to practice optimism in your daily life. To make optimism a habit, take a few minutes on a regular basis to focus on your blessings in life, through any method that works for you: a gratitude journal, meditation, or five minutes for actively finding the hidden “positives” during a walk around the block.
Focus on Life’s “Wins” and Envision the Future Ones
Many of us have a habit of celebrating others’ successes and glossing right over our own. We tend to feel like we’re “bragging” if we take too long being grateful for a win. But it’s important to stay positive by taking the time to bask in your success, especially when they come after hard work and effort.
Likewise, take a little time to outline what your future successes will look like. Envision what “wins” you’re looking forward to in a week, a month, or a year. Taking the time to picture what your future happiness looks like is a great way to not only induce an optimistic outlook, but to decide future steps for making this vision a reality.
The more you coach yourself to look on the bright side, the easier it becomes. Something good, no matter how big or small, can be extracted from every situation—as long as we have the right mindset to look for it.