We’re living in a world where being optimistic is hard and most people tend to be realistic about life. With all the chaos going on around us, it’s understandable. But if you’re looking to be more optimistic, you may find this article helpful.
As I mentioned, people tend to be more realistic than optimistic. But that doesn’t mean that being an optimist means you don’t pay attention to what’s going on around you, which is the reality you’re part of.
Of course, you’ll pay attention to how things happen around you. Otherwise, it would mean you’ll ignore everything and that sounds more like craziness, not optimism. In the world we’re currently living in, with things like COVID and war happening, you want to be anything but crazy. You want to be normal, with an optimistic approach to your actions.
What is optimism
Optimism is a mix of understanding reality and deciding to look at the bright side of things.
You know there’s a war happening in Ukraine, but you hope it will end soon and you try to get involved so you can improve the situation.
While the war in Ukraine may be too big to understand or to be able to look at it with optimistic eyes, maybe it’s good to focus a bit on something that’s closer to all of us: sadness, anxiety, and depression.
Nowadays, it feels like everyone is depressed or sad about something.
To be optimistic about sadness or depression means to understand and accept how you are right now (that’s being realistic) and to believe that things are going to improve (that’s having a positive outlook). And you know they’re going to improve because you always try to improve things, even though nothing seems to be working.
The difference between optimism and positivity
Until now, from what I shared with you, you may think that optimism is something that comes on top of just being positive and it also has something with being realistic.
But that’s not all.
There’s one specific thing that most optimistic people do and, if you want to be more optimistic, maybe it’s worth paying attention to.
Imagine yourself in the middle of a crisis. A crisis so big that it doesn’t seem to be anything you can do about it. You wake up in the middle of the night and you think about it. You feel overwhelmed by whatever is going on in your life and you can’t bear it anymore.
Right there, in that moment of extreme crisis and overwhelming negative emotions, an optimist thinks about the positive end that they’ll eventually get to experience.
But it doesn’t mean they’ll suddenly ignore the crisis they’re going through. An optimist will keep being aware of the crisis around them and also have in mind the possibility of a positive end.
It’s like holding a string with two fingers from each hand and seeing the string itself while also having great clarity over the ends of the string, that you’re holding with your fingers.
And the paradox is that the longer the string is, the harder it will be for you to see the entire string and both ends. To see it all, you have to look with your mind’s eyes.
I believe that’s something unique that an optimist does.
An optimist, in their worst crisis, looks at the whole string and says ‘I know where I am, I know where this all started, and I also know how it will end. It will end positively.’
Optimism is the sum of these 5 elements
On your way to being more optimistic, I think it’s important to have clarity over what you should focus on.
That’s why I created this short list of 5 elements that weigh the most when it comes to optimism.
To be more optimistic, try to balance them out.
Without awareness, there’s no change.
Everything starts with awareness and if you are here, reading about how to be more optimistic, I’m guessing is your awareness that brought you all the way here.
There’s this short book that I wrote back in 2015 and I talk about the three vital moments that you have to understand before you change your life.
- The first moment: when you were born
- The second moment: when you were given to your family
- The third moment: when you understand that what you have is not what you want
The second moment is unique for everyone involved and it’s unique because our families are unique.
When you are given to your family, you end up in a specific environment, with specific beliefs and access to specific systems (education, financial, etc).
If you don’t agree with any of the beliefs or the system, that’s when you start experiencing the third moment. You get there only by being aware.
And this is not connected just to being more optimistic. It’s connected to everything.
You can decide that you want to be an empathic leader and that decision is triggered by you becoming aware. Just as you triggered it when you decided you want to be more optimistic.
This is where optimism is connected with positivity and everything is influenced by your thinking.
The way you think is crucial because the way you think attracts what you get to experience.
If you think that things are bad and you’ll never get out of the bad situation you’re in, that’s what you’re going to attract and things will stay bad until you change your thinking.
On the other hand, if things are bad and you believe that eventually they will improve, you’ll start seeing improvements over time and things will get better.
More importantly, if things are bad and you tell yourself that even when things are bad, you feel great, you’ll have a positive attitude even when you’re in a crisis.
That’s how important your thinking is and that’s why it’s important to think positively. But it doesn’t stop there.
The way you think is influenced by your positivity, which also influences your vision.
You’ll get to have a great and beautiful vision only if you think positively.
Hypothetically, you can’t see yourself as the mayor of your town if you can’t see yourself having relationships with those around you and being a sociable person. If you keep thinking about yourself that you’re an introvert, who struggles to express their thoughts, you’ll never get to think about yourself as the mayor of your city.
That’s because your mind needs to see something positive happens so it can move on to the next step.
When you see things positively, you give your mind the chance to think and see past a specific experience and imagine all the beautiful things that can happen.
On the other hand, if you get stuck in seeing things negatively, your mind can’t advance. Your mind will say ‘This is where I stop until the wall is gone’ and thinking positively is one of the easiest ways of making the wall of negative thoughts disappear.
It makes sense to say that the more negatively you’ll think, the more you’ll judge others, yourself, and the situations that you end up in.
At the same time, it makes even more sense to say that the more positively you’ll think, the more creative you’ll be and you’ll try to empathize with others, yourself, and the situations that you end up in.
Everything is connected and it starts with that awareness that things are not going your way.
And attitude is what can trigger awareness. If you end up thinking too negatively about everything, there’s a small chance that you’ll understand it deeply – so deeply that you’ll want to change. That will be your transition to the 3rd moment. That will be your chance to get out of the negative loop and rebuild your life.
This is the last element. Also, it feels like it’s the most important one.
You can be aware of everything and you can see a rainbow everywhere you’ll look. Things can be as positive as you want them to be.
But as long as there are no actions, nothing will change.
The longer you stay without doing something, the harder it will be for you to keep having a positive mindset.
Through action, you’ll create a balance between the reality you’re part of and the positive thinking that’s above and beyond that reality.
If there’s no action, you’ll end up losing yourself either in the reality, which is full of negativity, or in the illusions of positivity.
You need action to bend reality and make things the way you want them to be.
Did you know that optimists have 22% more energy?
How optimistic are you?
Did you know that optimism is connected to motivation, coping, and well-being? It is. And it is also connected to depression and doubt and many other things.
Click the button below and grade each of the 10 statements on the screen. It takes less than 3 minutes and you get your results right away.
The big picture when it comes to being more optimistic
There are three dimensions that create this big picture: the inner map, the outer journey, and the unknown.
Let’s take them one by one.
The inner map
We kind of explored what this map is made of but without having any guidance on how you can move around the map.
The inner map is made of that positivity that you can bring through the table and the five elements connected to it: awareness, thinking, vision, attitude, and action.
But where do you start?
And after you start, how do you continue?
I know that the way I presented them to you may feel like there’s an order when it comes to approaching these 5 elements, but there isn’t really any order. Maybe I would just have in mind that most things start with awareness and end with action. But that’s it.
Here’s a visual representation of how I’m seeing this inner map.
Let’s say you become aware of how negative things are for you right now.
That’s making you think about your life. You think about the last two years and you reflect on what you want to change.
That fuels your vision, which influences your thinking even more. That brings enough awareness to help you change your attitude.
And that attitude is what will eventually help you act.
In short, things happened like this: Awareness -> Thinking -> Vision -> Thinking -> Awareness -> Attitude -> Vision -> Action
That’s how we usually navigate our inner map and it’s never smooth sailing.
The outer journey
The outer journey is not something that happens before or after you finish sailing the inner map.
The outer journey is another layer added on top of the inner map and influences your journey.
You can think of it this way: you set sail and decide to take the biggest boat available, and as soon as a whale hits your boat, you are firing up a warning with your flare gun so you can ask for help – 10 minutes later you get it.
While you’re in the boat, navigating, you are focused on your inner map.
As soon as the whale enters the story, you are focused on the outer journey.
Out there, in the real world, the outer journey is made of all the systems that you are part of: school, work, family, friends, city, country, government, laws, rules, and so on.
To have smooth sailing, you need to be aware of your inner map and also of the systems that you’re part of.
One can’t function without the other and you need to understand both the inner map and the outer journey to be more optimistic.
Into the unknown
At the end of the inner map and beyond the deepest point of your outer journey, there lays the universe, with its energy, and unthinkable factors.
That’s the unknown.
And even if it seems far away and we think we’ll never understand its secrets, we’re part of it.
Accepting there’s something unknown out there that’s neither our inner map nor our outer journey is what’s going to help you be more optimistic.
It’s the presence of the unknown that’s driving curiosity and there’s no curiosity without positivity. It’s all tied together.
Daily practice to be more optimistic
Awareness, thinking, vision, attitude, and action are five things we do more or less and are part of our life.
But then, all of a sudden, we wake up feeling like crap and we start thinking life sucks, which makes us remember all the bad things we experience in the past.
Fast forward to the end of the day, week, or month, depending on how much you got lost in your negative thoughts, you realize that so much time passed and you are back where you used to be.
In the last year, meditation became an important part of my daily practice. And sure, there are days when I don’t do any meditation. But I do other things.
And before moving on to other things you can do to be more optimistic, I’d like to remind you about an article I wrote recently, where I talk about saboteurs and how you can identify your saboteurs and work around them. I even have a nice gift for you, that you’ll find at the end of that article.
Here’s a link to it: The fine line between rules and excuses
All right. So, besides meditation, I also write (reflective journaling) and do cold showers.
The thing is, we could all be more optimistic if (and only if) we silence our minds a bit more and welcome positive thoughts.
It’s that simple.
But because we let things like someone yelling at us in the middle of the day trigger our anxiety, which will make us remember negative past experiences, we end up letting our minds take charge.
We don’t want that.
You want your mind to be your friend and do what you told it to do.
But when your mind starts digging for past negative experiences, your mind is not your friend because you didn’t tell your mind to do that. Your mind behaves against your interest and you need to learn how to control it. And do that every single day.
Read the article I linked a few paragraphs above and discover your saboteurs. I promise it’s helpful.
With love and optimism,
What did you learn?
What are some valuable things you learned about becoming more optimistic?
I would love to know what you think, so share your insights with me using the form below.