How To Become Optimistic
When it comes to New Year’s resolutions, we have the best intentions but they can be tough to keep—especially if our lives are overwhelmed with busy family and work demands, economic uncertainty or medical issues. If choosing to be optimistic is on this year’s list, take inspiration from these two women and their thoughts on how optimism can benefit your life.
Retrain your brain
Gillian Clark is a yoga and meditation instructor, and owner of Swerve, a popular yoga, dance, and fitness studio in Los Angeles, California. She believes people often confuse what optimism really is. "They think it's a short-term rationalization and a way to displace and deal with disappointment." She has found that optimism is much more than that. “We can retrain our brains to be optimistic.” She cites the science behind the concept that having positive thoughts can create neural pathways in the brain. These new connections make you ""feel good and connected with your life and the world."
The same notion applies to continual negative thoughts. They reinforce feelings of unhappiness and despair. "Making negative choices is simply a habit,” she says. “The brain is as powerful as the body. We have the ability to control it.”
Gillian chooses to practice in her life that ""the world is safe and filled with infinite abundance."" When she finds herself faced with a situation where negative thoughts can brew she says, “I pause and look at the big picture and see what is working.” She then assesses the choices before her. “The choices point me toward suffering or toward optimism.” Actively choosing optimism enables her to “see things a different way and to experience reality with fresh eyes.” She adds, “There’s no spiritual bypass; we have to look at what is difficult and harvest the good.”
She practices meditation and prayer to help her through difficult times and encourages her students to do so as well. Bu she realizes these techniques aren’t
for everyone. However, there is one practice that many can benefit from. She suggests putting your hand over your heart and asking yourself these questions:
• Who am I?
• What do I stand for?
• Do I stand for love?
• Do I stand for helping others?
• Am I okay?
The answers to these questions will help open you up to ways of new thinking and possibilities.
Kim Masson, a journalist from Greenpoint, New York, says optimism keeps her going “when the chips are down.” She believes “negative thoughts perpetuate themselves and keep you from not feeling well.” “You feel stuck and there’s no moving from that. When you start thinking positively you have something to look forward to in life.”
When she finds herself in an unhappy state, it helps her to focus on her goals and get outside. “Long walks and being near water soothes me and clears my head.” Taking care of her health and body is also important for shaking out the negative thoughts. “I cook something nourishing that makes me feel good.” She also understands that small changes in behaviour can make a difference. “How you approach people, smiling at them—can result in enormous benefits.” Most of all, having an optimistic outlook allows her to keep the universe open to receive its many gifts.
What to remember
We can all agree that negative and bad things happen. We have it within our power to address what is difficult, learn from it and change our thoughts. Whether you’re comfortable with a spiritual or a practical path, choosing an optimistic outlook can help you cope with circumstances and enrich your well-being. This is a resolution worth keeping!