Optimism is not an easy thing to hold on to. It’s a state of mind that people have to work to achieve. When it becomes a habit, however, you will find that it can improve your personal relationships, business relationships and even your health.
Let’s be honest. You probably won’t walk around looking like this, even if you become a full-time optimist…
But focusing on the positives can drastically improve your overall health and mentality, according to numerous studies.
- Pessimists are 3x more likely than optimists to suffer heart attacks.
- People who focus on positive emotions are shown to have lower blood pressure.
- Positive people are less likely to develop viral infections.
The overall benefits of positivity are nothing new. The Atlantic noted an interesting study that involved Vietnam veterans who had been held as prisoners of war:
“Dr. Dennis Charney, the Dean of Mount Sinai School of Medicine, examined Vietnam war veterans who were held as prisoners of war for long periods of time. Unlike many fellow veterans, they did not develop depression or post-traumatic stress disorder after their release, even though they had endured extreme stress. What was their secret? After extensive interviews and tests, Charney found the top characteristic that set them apart was optimism.”
This study, as many others do, clearly illustrates the power of positive thinking. Being an optimist can be hard, though, especially in the face of adversity. The good news is that it is something that can be achieved through intentional practice. Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky, Ph.D. explained, “Optimism is like a muscle; you have to exercise it to build it.”
Here are some helpful optimism-practicing tips:
- KEEP CALM - When something negative happens, be mindful of not overthinking or over-reacting. Instead, carefully consider what advice you would give a friend who was going through the same thing. Then, take your own advice. Removing yourself from the equation and thinking of it in other terms can help you address the issue more logically and less emotionally.
- CHANGE YOUR FOCUS - Negate any upsetting world news by thinking about how far we’ve come in a historical context. Medicine. Technology. Human rights.
- TAKE A TECH BREAK – Step back from social media at times and work to reflect on the good in your own life rather than analyzing the highlight reel of someone else’s.
- BE GRATEFUL FOR THE MISHAPS - Change your perspective on your failures, and work to see them as stepping stones and learning experiences that help you grow and make you better.
- GET ACTIVE - Find the cause of the negative emotions in your life and drill down on them. Take action to change the situations that make you feel most negative, rather than just passively worrying about them.
As we start a new year, it’s a great time to work on practicing regular optimism. Optimistic attitudes are highly contagious, so don’t be surprised if you see a boost in sales after adopting one professionally.
Amber is a dedicated dog mom with an addiction to weightlifting and a passion for chocolate and peanut butter. When she isn’t binge-eating Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, she’s normally trail running with her adorable pitties, Xena and Gaia.