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Last Updated on March 17, 2017 by Diane Hoffmaster
I am not the most optimistic person. I tend to be skeptical of things that seem too good to be true. Planning for catastrophic events happens regularly in my head. Rarely do I go into any situation expecting things to run smoothly. I envy optimistic people. They must be much more light-hearted than I am, right? I really want to learn how to change my slightly negative views on life and when I was sent a few tips by Dr. Sanam Hafeez from Comprehend the Mind on how to be more optimistic, I thought I would share them with you. There are a lot of benefits of positive thinking but it isn't an easy transition to make. If you are like me and want to improve your view on life, here is how you get started looking on the bright side of things!
How to Be More Optimistic
Focus on the good
“A daily exercise I often have my patients do is keep an appreciation or gratitude journal. When you focus on all the things to be happy for in your life then more great things come. Think generally and use your senses. What do you appreciate seeing, smelling, touching, tasting, listening to? Write it down. Within a few weeks you'll train the mind to pivot to an appreciate thought when a negative thought comes,” explains Dr. Hafeez.
Control what you can, delegate the rest
We get pessimistic and worry about the worst possible outcomes when we realize that we cannot control every detail. This leads to anxiety and an even stronger feeling of having to control conditions, and even others. According to Dr. Hafeez, this is a trap. “Figure out what needs to get done. What actions you can take. Then let go of anything else that is beyond your control with faith that everything will turn out fine. Envision the desired outcome,” advises Dr. Hafeez.
Making plans to see relatives, to see a new exhibit, a movie, or to travel gets our mind moving forward towards something positive that we can be hopeful and optimistic about. Dr. Hafeez suggests making plans to do 3 things per month for the next 3 months. “Choose things that you know will bring you joy and then go do them! Feeling excited about what is coming and talking about how fun it will be keeps us optimistic and forward-moving,” says Dr. Hafeez.
Limit your news watching and avoid it before bed
“There is a very common pattern I see people falling into,” says Hafeez. “People awaken and immediately reach for their smartphone for news headlines. They then turn on the TV news as background noise. They listen to the news in their cars, have news alerts going off on their phones all day, catch the evening news and then the 11 pm news before bed. No wonder they're less optimistic! What you choose to look at will impact your mood. Remember, good news doesn’t get ratings,” she adds.
Don’t snooze. Instead just breathe
When the alarm goes off give yourself a few minutes to just lie there, eyes closed focused on your breathing. Breathe in counting to 4 and then breathe out. Do a mental scan of your entire body from head to toe thanking your cells for restoring you as you slept. “Deep breathing is a form of meditation and in the morning, you have a small window of opportunity to decide what kind of day you want it to be,” says Dr. Hafeez.
Distract yourself with something that requires focus
The key here is to pick something you truly enjoy doing and do it daily. It can be painting, coloring, yoga, a 20-minute walk or jog, listening to music and dancing around your living room. “When you are fully engaged in something, you can’t ruminate which leads to pessimism,” explains Dr. Hafeez.
Make feeling good top priority
When you commit to feeling good you instantly start to think more optimistically. According to Dr. Hafeez, when you’re mindful of your own negativity and shift to a better feeling positive thought you feel powerful. You’ll feel like you can conquer anything when you can master your own mindset.
Learning how to be more optimistic can help you relieve stress and improve your health. Hopefully, these tips will help us all learn to see the glass half full instead of half empty!
Do you have any other ideas about how to be more optimistic?
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Diane is a professional blogger and nationally certified pharmacy technician at Good Pill Pharmacy. She has two college aged kids, one husband and more pets than she will admit to. She earned her BS in Microbiology at the University of New Hampshire but left her career in science to become a stay at home mom. Years of playing with LEGO and coloring with crayons had her craving a more grown up purpose to her life and she began blogging and freelance writing full time. You can learn more about her HERE.