Some people are born optimists, while the rest of us have to work hard to embrace optimism and keep pessimism at bay.
Whenever I catch myself slipping and starting to think the worst of a situation, I stop myself, reframe my thoughts, and force myself to find at least one positive thing I can be thankful for.
And the reason I work so hard to be an optimist is because I know about the benefits of being positive.
Here’s a list of 7 ways that optimists excel in life:
1) Optimists live longer
A recent study has shown that optimists live healthier and longer lives than pessimists.
According to the researchers, “Optimism has some of the strongest and most consistent associations with a wide range of health outcomes, including reduced risk of cardiovascular events, lung function decline, and premature mortality”.
Well, if that’s not excelling in life, then I don’t know what is.
2) Optimists are more successful in achieving their goals
This is because they have a good understanding of the possibilities and opportunities available to them.
For example, if an optimist wants to apply for a job, they’ll look at the job requirements and see if they have what it takes. If they do, they’ll apply because they know that they have a good chance of getting the job.
A pessimist in the same situation will fail to see that they have what it takes and they’ll tell themselves that there’s no way they can get the job – they probably won’t even apply.
So how can you succeed in life if you’re too scared to try?
Optimists don’t let negative thoughts and fears get the best of them or interfere with their goals.
3) Optimists are resilient
They can cope with a few setbacks.
They look at failure as a learning experience.
And do you want to know something?
Optimists are more likely to bounce back than pessimists because they believe in themselves.
I have this friend who is a total optimist and one of the most successful people I know. She had to take her driving exam 7 times before she got her license. 7 TIMES!
I was lucky enough to pass the first time around, but if I had failed, I don’t think I would have come back after the second or third try. I mean, who would? Most people would think that they’re not cut out for driving and would settle for public transport and cycling.
The bottom line is that an optimist knows that if they really want something, they need to persevere and believe in themselves and eventually, they’ll get there.
4) Optimists are less likely to suffer from anxiety and depression
As someone who’s had problems with both anxiety and depression, I can tell you that having a positive or negative mindset can make all the difference.
When I’d have a depressive episode, I had two options:
- I could either decide that there was no point in getting out of bed
- Or I could tell myself, “I know how sh””ty you feel, but the sun is out and you know how good it will feel to soak it up” or “I know how hopeless you feel right now but remember, you’ve been here before and it will pass. Go and walk the dogs, you know how much you love them.”
All in all, if you’re already feeling down, a negative mindset will only make things worse.
Similarly, if you’re a pessimist, you’re more likely to become anxious and depressed because of the way you view the world.
5) Optimists are happier
Because they focus on the good things in their life and are able to appreciate the little things.
Optimists don’t go around thinking about what’s missing from their lives or about everything that’s going wrong.
Now, that doesn’t mean that they’re oblivious. It just means that they’re able to appreciate the good things in their lives and find the silver lining in situations that aren’t perfect.
Optimists excel in happiness and I want to be happy. Don’t you?
6) Optimists are natural leaders
They don’t allow themselves to be weighed down by pessimism or negativity.
They’re motivated and goal-oriented because they believe that they can achieve something.
That’s why they inspire others to follow them and take action.
I mean think about it:
Who would you rather follow – someone with a plan who believed in themselves and had no doubt that they could succeed, or someone who was unsure of what they were doing, who was constantly complaining and kept changing their mind?
7) Optimists are good at relationships
Finally, optimists excel in relationships.
Whether it be with their friends, family members, romantic partners, or colleagues, optimists tend to have healthy and lasting relationships.
This is in part due to the fact that most of us are attracted to the sunny disposition of an optimist. And even the more cynical among us have to admit that there’s just something uplifting about being in the presence of an optimist.
And what’s more, optimists aren’t judgemental, they don’t hold grudges, and they’re open-minded. So what’s not to like?
How can you become an optimist?
Now that you’ve seen the benefits of being an optimist, you’re probably wondering if it’s possible to become one, or if you have to be born an optimist.
While some people are naturally optimistic, optimism is a way of thinking and viewing the world – which means that anyone can become an optimist.
All you have to do is:
A great way to start is to learn to be grateful for the good things in your life.
No matter how bad things are right now, I’m sure that there’s something to be grateful for – whether it’s a supportive friend, the roof over your head, or even something as simple as chocolate.
I’m grateful for chocolate. In fact, I often turn to chocolate in my times of need.
So what are you grateful for?
Use positive affirmations
The next thing you can do is make a list of positive affirmations to repeat to yourself every day.
Positive affirmations are statements that challenge your negative thoughts and replace them with empowering beliefs.
For example, instead of thinking, “I can’t do this, I’m not good enough.” You’ll replace that thought with, “I’m smart and I know how to do this – I can do this.”
Or if you feel like you’ll never find love, tell yourself, “I’m an amazing person with so much to offer. I am worthy of love and I will find love.”
The thing about positive affirmations is that they can increase your self-confidence, build resilience and give you hope – all resulting in optimism.
Surround yourself with positive people
It’s also important to avoid negative people.
There are some people that I like to call “energy vampires” who not only seem to suck all the energy out of you, but they also take away your optimism. STAY AWAY from them.
Positive people like your friends will make you feel good. Their positivity will rub off on you and you’ll become more optimistic about life.
It’s that easy.
Another thing that you may find helpful is practicing mindfulness meditation.
The thing that I love about meditation is that it grounds me in the present moment, and the present moment is good because it means that I’m here, I’m alive, I’m breathing…
You see, by learning to live in the here and now, you’re letting go of regrets from the past and anxiety about the future.
Try it and I guarantee that you’ll feel much lighter. Think about what a burden the weight of the past and the future can be.
Spend time in nature
First, I read something horrible in the newspaper. Then I come across a nasty person in the grocery store. Finally, I get stuck in a traffic jam.
I can’t take any of the negativity anymore, I feel like I’m about to explode!
So, what do I do?
I take a time out and head to the park. By spending an hour walking around in nature – observing the trees and listening to the birds – I’ll start to let go of the negative feelings that are flooding me.
You see, nature has a very calming effect and it makes me realize what an amazing world we live in and how lucky we are to be a part of it. That’s optimism for you.
View setbacks as temporary events
And this too shall pass.
The final thing you can do is to learn to look at setbacks and negative events as something temporary.
Whether you’re dealing with a problem at work, trouble in your love life, or you’re feeling depressed, knowing that whatever is happening is only temporary and that things will eventually get better will be of great comfort.
And I know it’s not easy, and knowing that the bad thing is temporary doesn’t make it any less bad now.
But I’m not telling you that you should ignore your feelings. I just want you to know that I’ve been where you are and trust me, it gets better – there is light at the end of the tunnel.