7 Tips To Increase Your Optimism & Why It's Important
Updated December 14, 2018
Reviewer Wendy Boring-Bray, DBH, LPC
The mind is a powerful thing. When we nourish it with healthy, positive thoughts, then there are no limits as to what we can do. However, when we're constantly putting ourselves down, or telling ourselves that there's no point in doing anything because there will always be a bad result, then we can't possibly expect to be happy. Being happy can affect everything from your professional and personal life to your health - so it's incredibly important to stay positive.
What follows are seven tips that can help you increase your optimism, so that you can live a healthier and happier life. And, when others see how well your life is going, maybe you'll convince them to pursue a happier, healthier outlook, too!
Tip #1: Accept Your Imperfections
One of the things that can make us the unhappiest is our sense of self. Whether it's our physical bodies or the personality traits that get us down, we are often our own worst enemy. By accepting our flaws, we can move past them; we can start becoming the best possible versions of ourselves that we can be.
As for some flaws, maybe try to make them better. For instance, if it bugs you that you struggle with a bad temper, perhaps try attending some anger management courses. If that's the only thing you don't like about yourself, then all you have to do is find a way to fix it or accept it- in turn you will become a much happier person. If, after attending these classes, you learn of new ways to harness and control your anger, then this is one of those instances where the people around you will also be happier because of a change that you made in your own life.
Tip #2: Never Underestimate the Power Of Music
Music can move mountains. It doesn't even have to be positive music! Blasting angry or sad music and singing along with it can do wonders for relieving stress. And when you relieve stress, that can help you feel much happier both in the long-term and the short-term. Happy music is, of course, self-explanatory.
Happy music can certainly lift your mood, as can a tune that invokes an overwhelming sense of nostalgia. But don't underestimate those darker tunes either. Sometimes, it helps just to know you're not alone; that others have experienced similar pain and have gotten through it - often by way of creating the very song you're listening to get over your pain. If you're in a room without music right now- put some on! Its effect on your mood can be invaluable.
Tip #3: Exercise Regularly
You are probably so tired of hearing about how you'd "feel a lot better if you exercised regularly," but it's true, and for several reasons. First, you don't have to feel guilty every day that you don't exercise, or every time you cheat and eat something you think you're not supposed to. The more you exercise, the more muscle you build, which means that you burn more calories even while just sitting and watching TV after you've worked out, as opposed to someone who doesn't exercise.
Not only that, but when you exercise, your brain releases dopamine - the "feel good" chemical in your brain that encourages you to keep doing more of that exercise stuff, and you'll continue to feel like this. Plus, you can take solace in the fact that you're doing everything you can to ward off illness and disease.
Exercise may be hard at first, but the joy is in pushing yourself harder and harder and seeing yourself reach goals you never thought possible. This does wonders for the self-esteem; it becomes a joy to exercise once you've gotten into a set pattern of doing it every day. You begin to look forward to it, which improves your outlook on life, your body, and your everyday activities - especially when you're not struggling as much to, say, lift a box or walk upstairs.
Tip #4: Don't Take Life Too Seriously
It has been said that children laugh about 100 times a day, while adults laugh only 20. No wonder the default emotion for most adults is misery! We need to start taking ourselves a lot less seriously. Only then can we truly lighten up and enjoy life. We only have a limited amount of time on this earth. May as well enjoy some of it.
This may sound silly, but schedule some time for yourself every day to laugh. Reading the comment boards on Reddit may be a good way to encourage some giggles. Or break out a new comedy show, book, YouTube video, or movie that you've meant to get to. Heck, sprinkle in some of your old favorites, the stuff you know you can't help but laugh at. Laughing can positively affect both your mindset and your health, so get cracking - up, that is.
Tip #5: Stop Complaining
An internet meme from a while back makes a good point: complaining without trying to fix the problem is just whining. Complaining gets you nowhere. The only thing it does is makes you the person that no one wants to be around. Ever hear the phrase "cheer up, emo kid"? That's the kind of reaction that complaining brings on.
If something bothers you that much, then you should be taking steps to change it. If it doesn't bother you that much, and it's nothing more than a simple annoyance, then don't waste your time complaining. Instead, use that energy to do something positive for yourself or someone else. You'll feel way more fulfilled at the end of the day by taking action than by sitting around, idly complaining.
Tip #6: Let That One Thing Go
You know how you're having an okay day, and then someone does something stupid on the road, or your coworker just won't stop bothering you, and you let it ruin your whole day? It's time to let it go. Don't get hung up on that one thing that can bring your whole day down. Let it roll off of you so that you can spend more time enjoying life, rather than fixating on the little things that would otherwise win by bringing you down.
Tip #7: Remember That, In Everyone's Life, There Are Always Ups And Downs
No matter how rich you are, how beautiful you are, how many friends you have, or how awesome your job may be, everyone has ups and downs in their lives. You're not alone on that one. Everyone loses a friend or family member, everyone gets yelled at by a boss, and everyone encounters an idiot on the road, whether they're the driver or the passenger.
It says a lot about a person if they can let that type of stuff roll off them so they can move on with their life. Have you ever heard people talking about that one person who has "been through so much, it's amazing s/he's able to get out of bed in the morning?" You may wonder how that person can remain so optimistic. Easy - they prioritize what they will let bother them, and they understand that at the end of the day, it's all water under the bridge.
Even when something tragic happens, like the death of a family member, it's important to remember that you're still here. You still have time to enjoy your life before your time is up, too. So, what are you going to do with the time that is left? For the sake of your health and happiness, and for the sake of the health and happiness of everyone around you, it is crucial that you take the necessary steps to stay optimistic.
Don't let that half-full glass become half-empty. Approach life with a smile and a can-do attitude, and you'd be amazed at how your life can change. The way you take on everyday activities can be changed for the better, and you may even find yourself surrounded by a different and more upbeat group of people than those who surrounded you before. No longer are you the Debbie Downer that brings everyone down at work. Now, you're a team leader who doesn't sweat the small stuff because you understand that after the dust settles, it's all just small stuff.
Want more tips on how to become a more optimistic person? Contact one of our BetterHelp counselors for more information.