Optimists enjoy many health and lifestyle benefits, and tend to be happier overall. Optimism is measured by your explanatory style, or how you define events. If you can learn to define positive events as being a) because of something you did, b) a sign of more good things to come and c) evidence that good things will happen in other areas of your life, you’re halfway there. If you can also think of negative events as a) not your fault, and b) isolated occurrences that have no bearing on future events or other areas of your life, you’re the rest of the way there! (Are you an optimist? Take the Optimism Quiz and see!)
Time Required: Just a Few Extra Minutes
- When something positive happens in your life, stop to analyze your thought process for a moment. Are you giving yourself due credit for making it happen? Think of all the strengths you possess and ways you contributed, both directly and indirectly, to make this event occur. For example, if you aced a test, don’t just think of how great it is that you were prepared, but also think of how your intelligence and dedication played a role.
- Think of other areas of your life that could be affected by this good event. Also, think of how the strengths you possess that caused this good thing to happen can also cause other positive events in your life. For example, what other good things can come from your intelligence, dedication, and ability to effectively prepare for tasks?
- Imagine what future possibilities could be in store. Because you hold the key to your success, shouldn’t you expect to do well on future tests? Isn’t a successful career a natural result?
- When negative events occur, think of the extenuating circumstances that could have contributed to this happening. If you do poorly on an exam, for example, were you especially busy in the preceding week? Were you somewhat sleep deprived? What outside circumstances contributed to your failure? Keep in mind that this isn’t necessarily a reflection of personal weakness.
- Also remember that you’ll have endless opportunities to do better in the future. Think of your next potential success, or other areas where you can excel.
- The key to optimism is to maximize your successes and minimize your failures.
- It’s beneficial to look honestly at your shortcomings so you can work on them, but focusing on your strengths can never hurt.
- Keep in mind that the more you practice challenging your thought patterns, the more automatic it'll become. Don't expect major changes in thinking right away, but do expect them to become ingrained over time.
- Always remember that virtually any failure can be a learning experience, and an important step toward your next success!
- Practice positive affirmations. They really work!
What You Need
- A willingness to examine your thoughts.
- A few extra minutes to consistently reexamine your thought patterns.