Toolkit to Build More Optimism
Look for opportunities. When difficult events happen, turn your focus toward a more positive alternative. For example, if you are stuck waiting for an appointment, use this unexpected free time to call a friend or read a book. If an injury or sickness has derailed your usual workouts, focus on what you can do, like gentle stretching or using resistance bands. These substitute activities can make you feel more positive and remind you that difficult circumstances will not necessarily continue, and you can overcome barriers to get there.
Focus on your strengths. Reflect on your personal strengths, like creativity, perseverance, kindness, curiosity. Choose one and plan how to use it today. For example, for perseverance, make a list of tasks you have found challenging recently, then try to tackle each one. If you choose curiosity, attempt an activity you’ve never tried before. Repeat this process every day for a week. You may use the same personal strength across multiple days or try using a different one each day.
Practice gratitude. Optimists often are thankful for what they have, and share it with others. Keep a gratitude journal where you list the many gifts and blessings for which you are thankful, like your good health, a kind gesture you received, a great meal you enjoyed.
Create a mental image of your best possible self. Where do you see yourself in 5 or 10 years? This exercise helps you address three essential questions:
What are you doing now?
What is important to you?
What do you care about and why?
The answers can help you focus on new goals and areas of improvement you’ve always wanted to pursue, but couldn’t because of other responsibilities and priorities, like work and raising kids. This can help you turn your attention toward something stimulating and exciting, which can increase your sense of great possibilities and a more positive future.
Start each day with positive affirmations. Choose a mantra that resonates with you and repeat it throughout the day to keep your spirits high.
Surround yourself with positive people who inspire and motivate you. Spend time with people who support your growth and lift your spirits when times are tough.
Take it one day at a time. Remind yourself that today is all that matters, and take small steps in the right direction each day. I just finished the book The Choice: A true story of hope. It’s an amazing story of living everyday to survive during Hitler’s time. At the age of sixteen, Edith Eger was sent to Auschwitz. Hours after her parents were killed, Nazi officers forced Edie to dance for his amusement and her survival. Edie was pulled from a pile of corpses when the American troops liberated the camps in 1945. And one line from the book that describes Optimism which has gone into my list of best quotes is “I survived today. Tomorrow I will be free”
Have faith in yourself and your ability to overcome obstacles. Believe that everything happens for a reason, even if it doesn’t make sense at first. One of the learnings that I took from my Babuji (Grand father) was Jo hota hai ache ke liye hota hai (whatever happens, happens for good). Have a lot of stories where something bad happened, but then later I realised it happened for a good reason. You will read some of these in my upcoming book.
February 19, 2023