4 Things That Will Increase Your Optimism

by  Mick Ukleja  |  Self Leadership
4 Things That Will Increase Your Optimism

Respond to the following statements with always, sometimes, and never:

  • In uncertain times, I usually expect the best.
  • If something can go wrong for me, it will.
  • I hardly ever expect things to go my way.
  • I rarely count on good things happening to me.
  • Overall, I expect more good things to happen to me than bad.

In order to fully understand this topic, we have to get beyond the “glass half empty/half full” definition. The subject is also broader than a personality type. Some people are naturally bubbly while others take a few hours to get their engines running. Yet both can be optimistic. Martin Seligman refers to this as a person’s outlook on life. He says everyone has an ”explanatory outlook.”

When there are those inevitable setbacks in life, the optimistic person interprets these as something that is:

  • Temporary
  • It can be changed
  • It’s just this one situation

The pessimistic person sees the setback as:

  • This is going to be forever
  • This will undermine everything I do

When something good happens, the optimist explains it as:

  • This will last forever
  • I did this
  • This will help me in every area

The pessimist, when they experience good things thinks:

  • I didn’t do this
  • It’s only this situation
  • It only helps in this one domain

Your explanatory style is the way you view the world.

When bad things happen both the pessimist and the optimist embrace them. The difference is that the pessimist has a “see, I told you so” explanation. The optimist has an “I can recover from this” explanation. When good things happen the optimist embraces them, “this is wonderful; I want more.” But the pessimist discounts it by explaining, “this can’t last; it’s too good to be true.”

Here are 4 practices that will make your explanatory style more personally productive.

  1. Acknowledge that you are the architect of your perceptions. Without this first step, you become a victim of things happening all around you.  The way you see your life shapes your life. We all have our internal way of defining our life which, to a degree, determines our destiny. This acknowledgment is the beginning of opening yourself up to new possibilities.
  2. Be aware of your explanatory style. Everyone experiences setbacks and difficult situations. The optimist keeps the trouble external. This enables them to work on the problem, difficulty, or that taxing project.
  • “Who has done this before?”
  • “Where can I get help?”
  • “Are there better instructions?”

The pessimist sees the setback or struggle as hopeless. It becomes an internal focus of

  • “I knew this would happen”.
  • “This will probably just get worse”.

One makes use of available options, and the other is so internally focused that no options exist. Observe how you explain events.

  1. Disconnect happiness from achievement. The “Destination Disease” says that until a certain thing happens I will not experience joy. This is where the pessimist and the optimist switch perspectives. The pessimist’s happiness is overly dependent on external circumstances taking place. The optimist focuses on personal abundance and sees happiness as an inside job.

But don’t confuse contentment with complacency. Hard work is a natural by-product of contented people. They are energized by personal contentment. Your destination is simply a reward for the journey you are on. Wealth never brings happiness to those who are miserable with modest means (tweet this). Enjoying the landscape and challenges along the way unshackles optimism.

  1. Develop the habit of self-affirmation. We have 60,000 thoughts a day.  They will either take you in the direction you want – or they will take you further from what you truly desire. If 30% of your thoughts are taking you in the wrong direction, that would be 18,000 counterproductive negative nudges everyday, or 126,000 for the week! This is often referred to as Self-Talk.  The more we are aware of our self-talk (thoughts) — both positive and negative — the more we will focus on attitudes and actions that make us more resilient. Your conscious thoughts are like the captain of your ship, and your subconscious thoughts are like the crew members carrying out your orders. Dr. Sharon Melnick provides a helpful metaphor of how this works in our daily lives. Watch this short video and find the blocks you never knew you had.

Every thought is a directive in your subconscious mind to carry something out. Make sure the directives are pushing you in the way you want to go.

“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”         Wayne Dyer

In reality, the glass is not half empty or half full. It’s both! So let’s open up another bottle and remedy the situation!

Cheers :)

What have you found to be a key to an optimistic outlook? Tell me about it in the comments!
Photo Credit: FFennema/123rf

About The Author

Articles By mick-ukleja
Mick Ukleja is president of Leadershiptraq. In the foreword of his book Who Are You And What Do You Want?, Ken Blanchard says, “This is the one book to read that will immediately impact your life.“ Mick has also co-authored two other books, The Ethics Challenge,/em> and Managing the Millennials (Wiley). He has been featured on Fox News, CNN, Fox Business Network, NBC and numerous publications.  »  View Profile

What People Are Saying

Philip Rebowe  |  12 Aug 2016  |  Reply

Sign me up

Mick Ukleja  |  12 Aug 2016  |  Reply

Consider it done!

Steph  |  15 Aug 2016  |  Reply

Captain and Crew metaphors very useful and descriptive!

Mick Ukleja  |  15 Aug 2016  |  Reply

Thanks Steph. Since our thinking creates our feelings, it’s important to keep the “captain” metaphor readily available! This helps keep our distorted thoughts (and we all have them), in check.

Emily Jacobs  |  04 Jul 2017  |  Reply

I love that Wayne Dyer quote, having recently experienced the truth of it firsthand. I found my circumstances improving when I started thinking, “What can I learn from this? What can I share out of it?”

Now to make it a habit…

Mick Ukleja  |  06 Jul 2017  |  Reply

Emily, that is the key isn’t it? We follow our good intentions by making habits that help us live our values!!

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