Cultivating Optimism

When something is wrong, people often recommend that we have more optimism. But is that even possible? Some people think that you are either born an optimist or you are born a pessimist. While changing your outlook may take some time and conscious effort, it is possible to improve your mood and your state of mind by developing optimism.

Develop Gratitude

Being optimistic is closely linked to gratitude. The optimist has hope for the future but is also grateful for their current surroundings and resources. Fostering an attitude of gratitude can be a good way to develop optimism.

Some Jewish traditions recommend “Blessing 1000 things every day” — which really means looking for things in your life to be grateful for.

This can be kind of a chore at first, and there will likely be a few days when you forget, but if you do it often enough for long enough it becomes second-nature. After a while you stop looking for things to be grateful for and start being grateful all the time, and that makes it a lot easier to keep up a good mood.

Be Aware Of How You Look At The World

Being optimistic is really a way of looking at the world. A good early step to developing optimism is being consciously aware of how you look at the world and understanding how that relates to the way that the world actually is.

Optimism and pessimism are largely about whether we entirely blame ourselves or entirely blame our circumstances when things go wrong. Optimists are usually able to accept that things went wrong but they are also able to learn from their faults and come back stronger next time, while pessimists often take their failures as signs that they do not have the ability to overcome certain obstacles and are more likely to give up early the next time that they face a difficult situation.

The next time that things go poorly for you, take into account what went wrong and why, and be sure that you are covering all of the bases. You will likely see that it wasn’t all your fault but that there were things that you could have done differently. Resolve to make these changes the next time that you have an opportunity and you’re already on your way to developing optimism.

Try New Things

On a related note, it’s easier to be an optimist if you’ve got a few successes under your belt. Because we don’t tend to look at things that we already do as successes when we continue to do them, racking up more successful ventures often means going out on a limb and trying new things.

Doing well at something that you haven’t done before will help to build your confidence, which is really what optimism is all about.

Find Or Create A Healthy Environment

Optimism isn’t entirely internal.

While it may seem that an optimist’s seemingly unending good mood comes entirely from their own hearts and minds, most optimists are able to be optimists because they have an environment that fosters that attitude.

If you want to be an optimist, you’ll need to find or create surroundings that allow you to have healthy and mutually beneficial relationships with those around you. These make it easier to complete tasks and easier to recover when something doesn’t go as planned. After all, being an optimist isn’t about thinking that everything will go the way that you want it to, it’s about thinking that everything will be okay no matter the outcome. This requires having a supportive and encouraging network of people around you.

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