When people confront adversity, uncertainty or difficulty in their lives, they experience a variety of emotions, ranging from excitement and eagerness, to anger, anxiety, and depression. The balance among these feelings appears to relate to people's degree of optimism or pessimism. Optimists are people who expect to have positive outcomes, even when things are difficult. Pessimists expect negative outcomes, which yields a greater tendency towards anxiety, guilt, anger, sadness, or despair. Confidence Coach Laure Redmond joined us to share how to cultivate more optimism in your life:
- Approach Life With a Sense of Possibility If you have the expectation of positive results, you're more likely to have a life in which possibilities are realized. You’ll have a better chance of being promoted, fighting off the cold that's been going around, and attracting people to you—both platonically and romantically. Optimism is a daily practice.
- Stack The Deck in Your Favor It's easy to be envious: Compare yourself to those with thinner thighs and fatter bank accounts and you'll always come up wanting—and pessimistic. But the corollary is also true: No matter how bad things get, there's always someone who's worse off. In one simple study, subjects were randomly divided into two subgroups. One group was to finish the sentence "I wish I were a ______." The other was asked to complete the sentence "I'm glad I'm not a ______." When individuals rated their sense of satisfaction with their lives before and after this task, those who completed the "I'm glad I'm not a ______" sentence were significantly more satisfied than before.
- Explain Success and Failure Like an Optimist Research shows that it's not what happens that determines your mood but how you explain what happens (to yourself) that counts. If an optimist encounters a computer program she can't figure out, she's likely to say, "Either the manual is unclear or this program is hard or maybe I'm having an off day." The optimist keeps the failure outside herself ("the manual"), specific ("this program"), and temporary ("an off day"), while the pessimist would make it internal, global, and permanent. When success occurs optimists say, "Of course dinner turned out; I'm a good cook," while pessimists say, "Boy, was I lucky today”. If you start to speak to yourself in a more positive way when you succeed and fail, you'll gradually become more optimistic.
- Create Mental Connection When thoughts or feelings of isolation appear, cultivate interdependent thoughts. Uncertainty promotes feeling separate from others, but thinking interdependently shifts feeling isolated towards feeling part of a web that includes others.
- Imitate The Ocean Being alive means living in a world that is in constant change and motion. Our lives are also in constant change and many times we are faced with uncertainty. Make an effort to see these changes without resistance, but instead through the lens of curiosity and adventure. This active self-direction of your own moment-to-moment perspective allows you to create a story in which you take charge of your emotions and actions.
- Before Things Get Better, They Often Get Worse It's like cleaning a room filled with boxes. You can shut the door and walk away or start sorting through the mess one box at a time.
- Take in New Sights and Sounds Not only will this sharpen your senses, but it will make you feel more alive. Even if it’s just a short drive to a neighboring farmers market, or a weekend retreat, or a week of house swapping in a location you’ve always been curious about; take the journey.