Practicing optimism entails focusing on the positive aspects of life rather than the negative aspects. While this attitude may not come naturally to you, you can learn it and improve your capacity for optimism.
What Exactly Is Optimism?
Optimism is a positive mental attitude in which one believes that things will turn out well. Optimists wish for success and desirable outcomes, but they also believe those outcomes will pass. An optimistic outlook can improve a person's mental and physical health. It is possible to cultivate a positive attitude by practicing gratitude and becoming more aware of your emotions.
Optimism vs. Pessimism: What’s the Difference?
Optimism and pessimism are diametrically opposed mental states. Optimists believe in and anticipate positive outcomes, whereas pessimists believe things will not work out and look for negative outcomes. The LOT (Life Orientation Test) assessment was created by psychologists Michael Scheier and Charles Carver to assess a person's level of optimism or pessimism.
Optimism and pessimism are both subjective mental states. For example, optimistic and pessimistic people may react very differently to the same situation, such as moving to a new city. An optimistic person expects good things to happen and believes the move was excellent and worthwhile. A pessimist may believe that the changes will be too difficult to manage successfully.
4 Signs of an Optimistic Person
Optimism can be expressed in a variety of ways. Optimists are more likely to do the following:
1. Concentrate on your work. Optimists believe their efforts are worthwhile and valuable. People who are engaged and fully committed to their work tend to think positively.
2. Look on the bright side of things. Having a positive outlook is the key to optimism. You have dispositional optimism when you focus on the positive aspects of life. Optimists see the good in everything, even bad things, and naturally expect good things to happen. Researchers L.G. Aspinwall and S.E. Taylor found that first-semester college students with higher levels of optimism adjusted better to transitions than pessimistic students in a 1992 study.
3. Take criticism in stride. You are optimistic if you can take criticism without allowing it to negatively affect your self-image. An optimistic attitude is encouraged by a strong foundation of self-esteem.
4. Consider challenges to be opportunities. Life is full of obstacles, but optimists can see obstacles as opportunities for growth and problem solving. When you can face life's stresses and negative events with a positive attitude, you are practicing optimism.
3 Benefits of Optimism
On a person's overall wellbeing, optimism can have a significant positive impact. Think about these outcomes of optimism:
1. A sound mental state: Research suggests that dispositional optimism can enhance mental state. Higher optimism levels are associated with decreased risk of depressive symptoms and other mood disorders, as well as increased likelihood of psychological wellbeing.
2. Physical well-being: In addition to mental health, optimistic thinking can promote physical wellbeing. Optimism has been identified as a reliable predictor of improved social and emotional functioning following surgery, according to a 2005 study of breast cancer patients conducted by Ullevl University Hospital in Norway. An investigation of cardiovascular patients conducted in 2019 by cardiologists and psychologists and published in JAMA Network Open revealed a positive correlation between optimism and a reduced risk of cardiac events.
3. Life satisfaction: Developing optimism can result in a more upbeat outlook on life. People who have an optimistic explanatory style—that is, those who explain both internal and external life events positively—tend to feel content in their daily lives and constantly hope for things to get better.
How to Be Optimistic
Although some people are naturally optimistic, optimism can also be learned with the right habits. To improve your quality of life and cultivate a positive outlook, think about the following strategies:
Be aware of your feelings. You must first recognize your current baseline state in order to alter your mental attitude. Bringing awareness to your emotions without trying to judge or change them is a component of mindfulness. Along with self-awareness, practicing breathing techniques or meditation can help you develop optimism.
Look for more optimists. You can closely observe how optimistic people behave when you're around them, and you'll gain from the positive reinforcement and social support that comes with having a positive outlook.
Exert gratitude. Your positive emotions will be primed if you practice gratitude. Your general sense of optimism may consequently rise as a result of this. To record your emotions, try keeping a gratitude journal every day.
Consult an authority. In therapy, patients can receive assistance from mental health professionals in learning how to shift negative emotions toward positive ones. Positivity can be attained through popular psychological interventions like CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) and positive psychology, which was founded by psychologist Martin Seligman.