Developing the Skill of Optimism

by Mar 12, 2020Emotional Health


What if I told you that there is a skill you can develop that can affect the way you react to stressful situations, make you more adaptable to the task at hand, less likely to back away from challenges, and increase your overall quality of your life?

Sounds almost too good to be true, right?

Well, it’s not. Let’s talk about it.

Optimism is an attitude or a mental skillset that can be described as a positive outlook or a happy belief that a specific venture or general outcomes in life will be positive.

It is derived from the Latin word “optimum” which means “best”, so think of it as your ability to expect desirable outcomes in life. You know the old, “Is your glass-half-full or half-empty?” saying, or the “Look on the bright side” phrase we’ve all heard countless times. Well, there’s actually something to those.

“Big Optimism”, or what psychologists call Dispositional Optimism is the ability to expect more desirable outcomes than bad to occur in our future. It has everything to do with how a person frames events in his past and present, and what he expects of the future. Adding optimism to your toolkit can dramatically improve your mental well-being.  

Just check out some of the benefits optimists enjoy:

They are better equipped to handle change, disappointment, and big life events due to their stress coping strategies and their ability to reframe situations, accept what is, and anticipate the next possible positive outcome.

They see bad events as impermanent, and good events as likely to recur. They engage in more social support. They view change and ambiguous situations as something to be challenged, not avoided.

Because they are more flexible and think positively, they are less prone to self-sabotaging behaviors such as believing “Everything that can go wrong, will go wrong”, and other negative thinking which can produce stress, anxiety, and depression.  

They have a tendency to adapt better to negative situations, including health challenges. Because of this, they typically discover serious problems earlier than pessimistic people.

They don’t get lost in denial or ignore their problems by engaging in avoidance behaviors. They deal with the issue, conquer it, and move on.

They generally enjoy a higher quality of life than pessimists do. Their positive attitude impacts their mental and physical health, making them excellent problem solvers and more likely to engage in a healthy lifestyle.

Pessimists, however, face bigger challenges.

Their negative thinking impacts everything, right down to their mental and physical well-being. This affects their ability to problem solve and thwarts their ability to be content and happy.

So, what can you do to add optimism to your skillset?

  1. Realize that you are responsible for your own happiness.  Happiness comes from within. Yeah, that sounds cheesy, but consider this:  how often do folks chase external things like accomplishments, material goods, etc. thinking, “When this happens, I’ll be happy”?  
  2. There’s no better time than the present. Optimism starts by accepting what is, valuing what you have in the present moment, and realizing that you don’t need to chase accomplishments, material possessions, or certain things in order to be happy.  
  3. Try to focus all your energy on solving a problem instead of complaining about it. Look for minor ways to solve the challenge, using all your available options. If you fail, don’t blame yourself. Look for the issue that caused your failure, learn from it, and move on.
  4. Train yourself to see opportunities in difficulty. As the saying goes, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade”.   
  5. Don’t waste your time trying to seek approval from others who don’t matter. Realize that you just can’t please everyone. Not everyone will like you, and that’s ok. People are generally caught up in their own “stuff”.
  6. Realize that things won’t always be easy. You will have challenges. No one is perfect – we all make mistakes.  Let go of any anger and disappointment you’ve been carrying, it serves no positive benefit in your life.
  7. Trust in your intuition. Stop judging yourself by other’s ideals. You are always good enough. We’re all a work in progress.
  8. Seek out others with an optimistic disposition. Find your tribe. It’s hard to be positive when you’re around pessimistic people all the time. Everyone needs a positive support network.
  9. Switch over to positive self-talk. Become mindful of what you say in your head and what you speak. Look at ways you can change your inner speech to include more positive phrasing.
  10. Smile more. Remind yourself of your blessings.

Look, life isn’t always easy, we all know that. At the end of the day, we’re all doing the best we can.

We all have challenges, but somewhere along the way we men got the impression that we needed to keep them “bottled up”. We don’t.

Implementing optimism in your life will increase your resiliency and ability to handle life’s problems. We all deserve to be happy. We all have two ways of looking at things.

Why not choose the way that is guaranteed to give you the best results? Adding optimism to your skillset is a great step toward living your best life possible.

If you feel you or someone you love could use some help in this area, call me at 512-470-6976 for a complimentary, 20-minute phone consultation.