“My friends, love is better than anger.
Hope is better than fear.
Optimism is better than despair.
So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic.
And we’ll change the world.”
Jack Layton, Letter to Canada, 08.20.2011
Looking at life from an optimist point of view is a real demonstration of contentment. Optimism is one’s ability to look at the more favorable side of events or conditions and expect the most favorable outcome. When we can look at the positives instead of the negatives we have a mindset of contentment. I think at times even the most optimistic of us can find ourselves viewing our cups as half empty.
Anytime optimism is a challenge there are four steps that we can take to transform our thoughts and perspective back into an optimistic mindset.
Recognize negative thoughts as you have them. There is no value is ignoring the very real thoughts and emotions we have. If we ignore them we are not addressing them and living, we are fantasizing. Recognize the reality of your thoughts and emotions so you can deal with them. Consider these the starting point of learning optimism.
Ask: Is the situation as bad as I think? This is the reality check. After we acknowledge the thoughts and perhaps the emotional response we would like to have. Take a deep breath and get honest about the situation. Put your emotional response aside as best as you can and with a level head ask “Is the situation as bad as I think?”
Ask: Is there another way to look at the situation? There is always another perspective. One of the toughest lesson I learned in my years of corporate management is there is always another perspective which is held as much as truth as my perspective. Although these may be many facts supporting your perspective, there are just as many supporting another perspective. As you learn optimism, learn to find the other perspective(s).
Ask: What can I learn from this experience that I can use in the future? The lessons of life are everywhere. When I am in a tough situation I often ask God to show me the lesson now so I do not need to go through this again. There is always a golden nugget of knowledge to be mined from a life experience. Mine the nugget so you can walk away with the treasure. The experience may not be what you wanted or hoped for, but there is always a new learning to leave the experience with. When we learn from our experiences we can use that knowledge to create a brighter future.
Follow these four steps when your cup is half empty and in no time you will be looking at the more favorable side of events and expecting the most favorable outcomes again.
Today’s Simple Smile Igniter is to test run these four steps in one of your life situations today. How do they feel? Are they steps you already find you go through when life hands you lemons? Or are these new to you? If these are new or habit, considered writing them on a note in your phone, in your journal or any place where you can find them when optimism is a challenge for you.