Learn how to be optimistic. Basically, you aren’t required to be born a positive person – optimism can be learned. Don’t give up just because you’re not good at it! Because there’s a way to…
Learn how to be optimistic.
But how, you ask?
If I’m being candid with you, (and my husband, Rob, can attest to this,) compared to some others, I am not naturally a positive person.
Did I really say that?
Yes, I did. I’m a learned optimist.
It’s a choice.
I believe anyone can learn how to be optimistic, and with deliberation, choose to act that way.
If so, then all of us can take action in a strategically positive way.
In all areas of our lives:
in how we think about ourselves,
as we talk to ourselves (our inner dialogue),
how we make choices in our life,
when we interact with people,
in our business world, church world, and family,
as we pursue our side-hustle, our hobbies,
and/or entrepreneurial life,
while setting and embracing our goals – large or small
and everything else life holds!
Here’s the path – with 4 aspects – on how to learn to be optimistic:
1 – Begin with love.
Start by feeling love for yourself. (Yes, it’s a journey.)
Firstly, I believe I was born on purpose and for a purpose. As were you! No person is an accident. Everyone has value.
For all those mothers who long to get pregnant, and parents who are trying and trying to conceive a child, this concept of a child being born on purpose is real. (As is the heart-wrench and ache when a child dies before you can hold her or him in your arms.)
Plus, as a Christian, I believe God loves me. He loves you. There’s a plan for us. As a great example of true, perfect love, Jesus, the Son of God, gave up His life in a horrible death for no reason other than He loved me. And you. And everyone. All people. Regardless. (If you’re looking for a romance story, the Bible is the ultimate one.)
Maybe your life thus far hasn’t shown you much love. If that’s the case, I just want to tell you:
It’s not the end of the story!
You can feel loved. There’s time.
Just as you have time to love others. It’s a journey.
Gratitude is so much more important than the world around you wants you to believe. Being thankful is a special sauce, a magic formula, the ultimate elixir on the way to being positive.
How do you track your thankfulness?
Being aware of what you’re thankful for is one thing. Because of this, it’s powerful when you see all the items concretely logged with writing or images.
Whether you use an app, a journal, a planner or a plain old notebook, keeping an ongoing list of all the items you’re thankful for on a daily basis is important!
Did you hear that?
I can’t think of another way to state it. Make it a habit at the beginning, middle or end of a day to list what you’re thankful for. Begin recording your thankfulness.
I challenge you to start with a list of 100 items. A while ago Rob and I did an exercise like this together and it was so much easier than it seems… From this, we realized that the greatest to the least little item provides many, many reasons each day to give thanks.
” Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.”
Therefore, you can learn how to be optimistic if you use gratitude as a tool!
So, being loved and being thankful. Right.
And after that – what’s next?
3 – Being encouraged and encouraging others helps you to learn how to optimistic.
Thirdly, what is encouragement?
“Encouragement: words or actions that give someone confidence or hope and words or actions that help something to happen.”
~ from MacMillan Dictionary
To learn how to be optimistic means you understand the importance of encouragement. Encouragement is an action. It’s having hope for the future. People who are positive-focused know how to help themselves and others make something happen – something good for the future.
Optimists are confident that if they keep trying and continue to persevere, regardless, there will be an improvement.
And once an optimist is feeling hopeful, then…
4 – Optimists take action.
Lastly, some of the skills on the path to learn how to be optimistic are the ability to make a plan, work the plan and take action on the goals that’ll get you to the finish line of the plan. Does this sound familiar?
What if things don’t work out? Failure is part of the plan – it’s gonna happen, and optimists who take action have contingencies at hand to fail forward.
So, if something doesn’t work out, the optimist finds another way.
Above all, it’s about taking action – not getting stuck in inertia or analysis paralysis. Equally, if a positive person does get stuck, they look for help from another encouraging person! Do you have someone like that in your life?
Are you someone who takes action? Is there a chance you’re also a learned optimist?
Being Positive on Purpose
All in all, life isn’t always what you expect. There are curveballs…
It’s important to realize there are days, weeks and even years where being optimistic is hard. At times it feels almost impossible. I get it. I really do – due to circumstances we all encounter, I’ve experienced it and it’s difficult to be optimistic when in crisis. (Especially if others around you expect optimism from you and you’re feeling like you’re running on empty.)
What can you do when it’s hard to be optimistic?
Actively seek support. To clarify, surround yourself with people, activities, and resources which will support you in practicing:
loving yourself and others,
being thankful – in all circumstances,
accepting encouragement and giving encouragement,
and taking action.
To be transparent – that’s why this site was born. I needed something to keep my focus on remaining and then growing in being positive. So, that’s what PostiveThanksLiving.com is for… it’s for me and you!
On the positive side, there’s no end in learning to be optimistic.
You just get better at it. Certainly, it takes ongoing practice, but the benefits of practicing optimism impact everyone around you for the better.
Indeed, it’s not going to hurt anyone if you learn how to be optimistic… in fact, it’ll help make the world around you a little better!
If positivity is contagious, are you waiting to “catch” it from someone else… or are you a carrier?
I read a little blurb about a cashier who was consistently optimistic in her attitude.
For some people, when they met and interacted with her, it improved their day. For other customers and co-workers, her attitude was almost annoying. In fact, sometimes she was so positive that it grated on those around her like fingernails on a chalkboard…
Some wondered how she could sustain this behavior. Surely her life wasn’t that much better than others?
Her secret was eventually revealed as simply being a choice. She made a daily choice to have a “good” day, and that decision translated into this ongoing optimism.
Not everything is going to be good in your day. However, your own attitude is under your control.
Will you choose to pass onto others something good?
Consider who can benefit from your healthy attitude… Is it worth the energy to impact everyone around you in a positive way? And if so…
Is your positivity contagious?
Will you decide that today is going to be good day – regardless?
As beautiful as a solo can be, a symphony has greater depth.
(In case you’re wondering, a symphony is a musical composition for a group of instruments with at least four distinct sections.)
Who is playing in your symphony?
Whistling alone might not be the best choice. Make your life interesting – embrace the opportunity to play with others. However, it’s also good to be playing your life’s symphony with a group that supports you…
So – who is in your symphony orchestra of life?
Is it time to audition a few new players?
A few places of encouragement:
To support this idea of not just whistling in an empty room, I’m participating in a writing challenge for the month of April and I thought I’d share some posts from fellow writers!
Bonnie always makes me chuckle! (I’ve been reading her posts since 2011) Everything from relationships, her grands, to trash on the beach – it’s all fodder for her way of looking at life. If you want to view Life on the Lighter Side, check out Bonnie’s post!
Kerry is a mom from my home country of Canada. She writes about being creative – this posthas a beautiful perspective. “Choosing a hobby for which you have talent is an important part of self-care.” she says. What’s your creative hobby? How do you use your creativity to glorify God?
I “met” Debi and Tom from The Romantic Vineyard when we both participated in a 30-day challenge in 2011. She continues to write about marriage, and her posts are insightful and fun – Rob and I have adopted/adapted some of her dating ideas. Debi asks, “Are you up for the challenge”? – I encourage you to explore the website and share it with your “couple-friends”!
These are only a few of the articles I’ve been reading in this symphony of online voices…
Listen. Pay attention as people speak about their life. That’s the secret if you want to meet interesting people.
Everyone you will ever meet knows something you don’t…
Bill Nye the Science Guy
During this week could you
enter every conversation
with the belief you have something to learn?
Do you hear what people say? Or are you more interested in talking – in hearing yourself talk?
Focus on listening and you will meet amazing people.
And don’t assume you can’t learn something new about people you’ve known for years and years – humans are complex! People change over the years, and if you’re not listening to their story you’ll miss out.
I challenge you:
be present (stop thinking about other stuff)
hush! (regardless of how much you have to contribute)
be still and attentive (please put the phone, keys, papers, etc. down)
And click HERE to learn more about the book, “The Kindness Quotient“. This is an affiliate link, which means you’ll be supporting me (at no cost you) if you choose to purchase the book. I only promote items I believe will add positively to your life.
… for gaining wisdom and instruction; for understanding words of insight; for receiving instruction in prudent behavior, doing what is right and just and fair; for giving prudence to those who are simple, knowledge and discretion to the young— let the wise listen and add to their learning…
Best friends. We read and hear about that concept quite a bit. It seems like an elusive, never-to-capture ideal. There are movies, books and social media posts touting the idea… but what does “best friend” really mean?
Best friend means something different for everyone.
I’d imagine your “best friend” job description would look different from mine. In fact, there’s every chance we’d all have a unique set of criteria on our list… And that list has changed and will change as long as we’re alive.
Is there any chance one living person could meet all our human “best friend” needs – always?
What if you made kindness a habit? Habits are unconscious – they’re the showcase of our character. (And scientific experimentation suggests that if you do something for more than 30 days it becomes a habit.)
What if kindness became part of your character? Could you improve the world around you through your character?
Continue to be who and how you are,
to astonish a mean world with your acts of kindness.
10 Simple Ways to Be More Kind
1 – Smile. A friendly face can make a difference in a bleak world.
2 – Be generous. Give without expectation of return.
3 – Start the conversation. Make a connection – ask a question and then listen.
4 – Give compliments. Everyone has good qualities! Let them know…
5 – Share what you love. Bring extra & pass it around.
6 – Adjust your tone. Sometimes it’s all in how you say it…
7 – Exercise patience.Remember – everyone is fighting a battle, even if it’s not apparent.
9 – Let it go.You don’t always have to win, do you? If it won’t matter next week… let it go.
10 – Be careful. Hearts are tender, even if the outside is crusty.Be more kind, regardless.
What would you add?
I’m sure you can think of other easy ways to exercise the character quality of kindess…
Let’s “UP” our kindness quotient this week – Be more kind!
Want to read more about the benefits of being kind? Click HERE to learn more about the book, “The Kindness Quotient“. This is an affiliate link, which means you’ll be supporting me (at no cost you) if you choose to purchase the book. I only promote items I believe will add positively to your life.
Curiosity and questions. Get curious. It might take a relationship to the next level. Sure, being kind is important, but maybe curiosity holds an even greater power? Curiosity may even develop into empathy for others.
It’s about asking questions – the right questions.
Curiosity and Questions Spark Relationships
In 1997 five researchers published a paper. It described an experiment they set up where strangers took turns asking each other 36 specific questions in exact order.
At the end of the experiment, it was proven by feedback that these questions created a sense of closeness. In less than an hour, some of the former strangers even exchanged contact information to continue their budding relationship.
Research in this area had already shown that a key pattern in developing a close relationship includes:
The researchers developed their 36 questions to make this happen.
The study, “The Experimental Generation of Interpersonal Closeness: A Procedure and Some Preliminary Findings”is here. You can read about how they designed the experiment and all the details in how they administered it. I found it really interesting to read.
I imagine it would be fun to do this with your long-term friends and your spouse. Curiosity and questions will create a spark in those relationships also – and sometimes our long-term relationships might even need a spark!
The “Sharing Game” – 36 Questions
Curiosity and questions – if you just want the questions themselves, you can find them below. Within the experiment, the questions were given in three sets. See the appendix of the paper to read the exact instructions on how the game was set up.
1. Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?
2. Would you like to be famous? In what way?
3. Before making a phone call, do you ever rehearse what you’re going to say? Why?
4. What would constitute a perfect day for you?
5. When did you last sing to yourself? To someone else?
6. If you were able to live to the age of 90 and retain either the mind or body of a 30-year old for the last 60 years of your life, which would you choose?
7. Do you have a secret hunch about how you will die?
8. Name three things you and your partner appear to have in common.
9. For what in your life do you feel most grateful?
10. If you could change anything about the way you were raised, what would it be?
11. Take four minutes and tell your partner your life story in as much detail as possible.
12. If you could wake up tomorrow having gained one quality or ability, what would it be?
13. If a crystal ball could tell you the truth about yourself, your life, the future or anything else, what would you want to know?
14. Is there something that you’ve dreamt of doing for a long time? Why haven’t you done it?
15. What is the greatest accomplishment of your life?
16. What do you value most in a friendship?
17. What is your most treasured memory?
18. What is your most terrible memory?
19. If you knew that in one year you would die suddenly, would you change anything about the way you are now living? Why?
20. What does friendship mean to you?
21. What roles do love and affection play in your life?
22. Alternate sharing something you consider a positive characteristic of your partner. Share a total of five items.
23. How close and warm is your family? Do you feel your childhood was happier than most other people’s?
24. How do you feel about your relationship with your mother?
25. Make three true “we” statements each. For instance, “we are both in this room feeling…”
26. Complete this sentence “I wish I had someone with whom I could share…”
27. If you were going to become a close friend with your partner, please share what would be important for him or her to know.
28. Tell your partner what you like about them: be honest this time, saying things that you might not say to someone you’ve just met.
29. Share with your partner an embarrassing moment in your life.
30. When did you last cry in front of another person? By yourself?
31. Tell your partner something that you like about them already.
32. What, if anything, is too serious to be joked about?
33. If you were to die this evening with no opportunity to communicate with anyone, what would you most regret not having told someone? Why haven’t you told them yet?
34. Your house, containing everything you own, catches fire. After saving your loved ones and pets, you have time to safely make a final dash to save any one item. What would it be? Why?
35. Of all the people in your family, whose death would you find most disturbing? Why?
36. Share a personal problem and ask your partner’s advice on how he or she might handle it. Also, ask your partner to reflect back to you how you seem to be feeling about the problem you have chosen.
Would you be curious enough to try this experiment?
Does this experiment spark your curiosity? Would you try these questions with someone you don’t know well? What about your spouse? Or relatives? Would you want to feel more close to anyone in particular? Curiosity and questions spark relationships – a winning combination!
and words that pleasure you and rest you, softly spoken.
Unnumbered good days, peace of a starry night,
and love from dawn to dawn that’s an unbroken deep certainty in you…
I have no right to dream of it — but never doubt
I should give you such presents, if I could.
In addition to all those items mentioned in the poem above, I would add:
deep, rejuvenating sleep every night
healthy food when you’re hungry
hope for the future
the opportunity to pause and give thanks – ThanksLiving!
Are all these things really out of our ability to give?
Could we influence in some small way?
What would you give if you could?
Leave a comment and add to the list!
Who comes to mind first when you think of giving?
One of the phrases that stopped my reading was, “love from dawn to dawn that’s an unbroken deep certainty in you”. Read more about feeling loved here.
A post I read last week held such beautiful parental love – it caused me to reflect on my relationship with our grown children and the newest adventure of being a grandparent. Do you have the privilege of raising (or being a part of raising) a little one? Take a look at “While you were walking.”
How would you identify a good friend? For me, loyalty is a necessary value. What other values would you identify in a good friend? Perhaps: empathetic, trustworthy, supportive, humorous…
Do you have any of those traits?
To get you thinking about your own ability to be a good friend, I’ve done some research. Here are five points I’ve found on how to be a good friend:
1 – Though you can’t calm the storm, you can walk with them through it.
Being there – no advice or fixing – can be the way you’re a good friend.
2 – Not the same kind of weird, but you can appreciate their weirdness.
Dis-similarity can be a joy – it creates opportunities to celebrate your differences as friends.
3 – Friendship doesn’t need to be a big thing.
Rather, it’s a million little things all woven together.
4 – Good friends will tell you what you need to hear – not just what you want to hear.
They’re happy when you’re happy and sad when you’re sad and can empathize while nudging you toward a healthier state.
5. A friend gives – knowing full well the cost – expecting nothing in return.
Being compassionate and giving while setting boundaries for both of you.
Are you a good friend to others?
Is there anything you’d add to the above list? (I’m pretty sure you could come up with more!)
We all have a ways to go before we’re perfect friends… but as long as we’re improving, we’re headed in the right direction. And sometimes it’s about being a good friend before we can identify those who are trying to be our friend.
How can you be a good friend – what will you change or do differently this year?
One of the things I have determined I will do in this next season is to pray more for my friends. Sometimes that’s the only thing a friend can do to help…
And as positive as that statement is, it can be a jarring reality when we are working through a sad goodbye. Photos are an important part of grieving, as is reviewing memories. The act of grieving may never end, but it does change. It softens and the edges fray…
We want to say, “You should be here!” But that person or situation has carried on, without us. It’s possible to be whole, to rebuild, to find new dreams, or re-shape old ones. But first, we need to grieve. If someone you know is walking this path, give them the latitude to grieve.
Grief is yet another way to express love.
Love strong and deep, even as life goes on.
“Most do not understand the importance of grief and how to process our complicated feelings. Grief is God’s gift to help us say goodbye to someone or something precious to us. We can’t embrace the good that is still in our lives without processing our grief in healthy ways.”
As imperfect as we all are, we do have worth. Great worth.
Did you hear me?
You have great worth.
Your self worth is not dependent on another person accepting you, affirming you, helping you, believing you, admiring you, approving of you, buying into your ideas, or not, or anything else outside of yourself.
You have great worth because you are here.
You were born for a purpose.
Even if no other human on this planet can understand that, you still have great worth. Perhaps, in this moment, even you can’t pinpoint why you were put on this earth, however, you do have great worth. I’m convinced of it… God does not make mistakes.
You are not a mistake.
You have value.
It doesn’t matter how old or young you are. Your physical appearance, perceived ability or inabilities will not have an impact on the person you’ve been designed to become. Even if you are struggling right now with horrible issues – seen or unseen – there will be a way through. There will.
Because you have great worth.
Is it hard to believe it?
Is it hard to believe you have great worth?
OK. It could be that believing in your own worth is hard at times. Maybe all the hoopla and hoorays about starting the new year fresh is painful to hear and read. Maybe you’re afraid. Perhaps you can’t see a way forward right now… (even if on the outside you’re putting up a good front. Or not.)
Alright. OK. Take a breath. And another. One more breath.
Is there someone in your life who can believe for you – can someone believe you have great worth – and do it on your behalf? Just for a bit. Can that person believe in your worth, until you’re strong enough to believe it yourself?
I believe you have great worth.
If you’re reading this, know that I’m thinking of, and writing to YOU.
Yes – you.
Don’t give up.
Put that alcohol, that drug, that 50th eclair down. You have great worth. I’ll believe it for you until you can believe it yourself. It will get better. You will make it through. The mess you feel you’re in will pass. Relationships can be renewed, rebuilt, re-imagined. Be kind to yourself. Any mistake you’ve made… God can forgive.
There is grace available. Always.
Because you have great worth.
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
Want to feel and explore the love of God – read this.
NOTE: is there someone in your sphere of influence who you sense is struggling? Reach out. Tell that person that they have worth – that they matter. It will make a difference. (Others did that for me – that’s how I can know.) And if they can’t believe – yet – then believe it for them.