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!
Being thankful in all circumstances can teach you much more than you’d imagine. Sure, not everything feels good, but there’s always something you can find for which to give thanks.
Practice your Thanks-Living skills!
Here are five great lessons you can learn by being thankful:
1 – Thankfulness opens hearts.
Being thankful, regardless of the stage and state of your life, might not be easy, but it does impact those around you. During times when Rob and I have experienced less-than-optimum situations, expressing what we’re thankful for has created a connection.
Hardship can divide spouses, families, and friends, just because everyone is focused, in word and deed, on the struggle.
Expressing thankfulness draws hearts back together.
If you find yourself avoiding talking to those you love because of the issues you’re dealing with, then start with a sentence about what you’re feeling grateful for… talking about all the blessings in your life can engage everyone, and you might surprise each other at what you find yourself grateful for…
2 – Being thankful shapes the future.
Once you start discussing all the areas in which you’re thankful, you’ll begin to see where God has blessed your life in the past. And that leads to anticipating future opportunities. If your future is shaped in what you’re thankful for, it becomes easier to bounce back and get on track.
3 – Gratitude reduces want-itis.
“Gimme-gimme” and “I want, I want, I want” have become an epidemic in our western society. Being thankful for what we have combats the materialism of our culture in a healthy way. Once you notice all you actually possess and feel a sense of thankfulness, wanting extra stuff becomes less attractive.
4 – Thankfulness impacts our memories.
Memory is subjective. Two people can think back on the same experience and will have differing memories, according to their bent toward optimism or pessimism. Once an individual looks back in their history with the filter of gratitude, the memories can be wired toward optimism.
5 – Thankfulness balances a healthy sense of self.
Being thankful can increase an internal sense of self-esteem because it hones attention to where others are helping. By acknowledging you need help, which can be humbling, you also must shift to the belief that you’re a worthwhile person because someone went out of their way to help. It’s a curious cycle.
Yesterday I wrote about sticky positive thougthts and said I have Scripture verses posted to encourage my thinking. This is one that’s been very important to me:
… in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
This article about a sermon on the above Scripture is one of my recent favorites – it unpacks the idea that we don’t need to be grateful for the suffering, but rather we can be grateful in the suffering.
What sticks in your brain? Have you ever heard a melody and it kept going ’round and ’round in your head for the rest of the day (or night)? If you like the song, then that’s OK – but if you don’t… well, it can drive you batty!
And it’s the same with our thoughts. Sometimes the thoughts we think are helpful for our behavior, and sometimes they aren’t.
Wouldn’t it be good to have sticky positive thoughts going ’round our head rather than those stinky negative ones?
Sticky Positive Thoughts
Let’s get some sticky positive thoughts into our brains… Do any of these resonate with you?
I’m loved and wanted.
My time will come – I can be happy when others succeed.
Be thankful for the one. One step forward, one page written, one child encouraged, one heart strengthened, one person eating well, one bed made, one load of laundry folded, one desire fulfilled, one prayer answered, one smile, one…
Never underestimate the one thing.
Every book began with a page of writing, and every blog began with that first post. A relationship begins with a smile between two people. The knowledgable person began their journey with one item of information. New forests begin with one tree. (I was reminded by this post.) Revolutionary technology begins with an idea. Each business starts with one client.
One. It could be the start of something big!
I’m encouraging you to be thankful for one thing – that first item, or the next one thing on your list. Why? Because it has value. (And yes, I’m talking to myself also.)
It’s so easy to gloss over what you’ve already accomplished because you’re desperately focused on all you have yet to add to your resume.
One way to appreciate the “joy of the start” is by being thankful.
Be thankful for the one thing.
I challenge you to write down what you’re thankful for – today. The one thing. Just one thing. What one action have you taken that holds value? (And value is subjective – you decide.) Here are some ideas on how to record it:
This first day of a new year has me sifting through conflicting emotions.
People I cherish are celebrating the birth of a long awaited baby. Oh, what joy in a dream realized. And yet others are coping with the untimely death of a sister and friend – the first in their circle to pass into eternity. It feels like it’s too soon to let go of her, as everyone else believes they have decades still to live.
Same day – two diametrically opposite sets of emotions.
As this day unfolds for me, I’m going through the collections my mother has amassed over her 84 years. It’s a small apartment, but it’s full. I’m trying to help her decide what is necessary for the next chapter in her life, and what she can let go of – either to someone else (not me) or into a garbage. She’s sorting through physical artifacts that mirror the emotions of the other people I referenced above. Good memories, sad ones, joyful experiences and tragic happenings. It’s all here in her stuff.
We are all the same – we will all experience the scale of events from joy to tears.
What do we do with it all?
The value of a moment.
Do we know the value of each happening at the moment it occurs? Not always. Just as Dr. Seuss says, “Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.”
Even the bad moments can create valuable memories.
Maybe that needs to be our goal as we go through the days… creating value in the moments, regardless of the emotions – good or bad…
What do you think?
How will you mine the value of a moment – this year?
Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
If you’re looking at your “now”, and it’s so far from what you want or what you had, it can feel discouraging. Our inner push to set goals or our outer need for achievement and affirmation can poison our current spot.
Be thankful for now.
Take care; we can get all caught up in our “dreams” and striving for what we want, that we forget there is joy right now.