We’ve all faked a smile to get past a rough patch, but there are ways to actually increase our happiness naturally. It’s true that some people may be more prone to having a positive outlook- whether because of their genetics, environment, or upbringing. However, there are still strategies that all people can use in order to train themselves to “look up” a little more. Here are some ways to cultivate optimism in your life:
Allow Yourself To Experience Disappointment
Sometimes optimism can be misunderstood as simply looking on the bright side, but a bigger, perhaps more important side of optimism is going through those painful trials and having hope that things will improve. We need to mentally time travel to the future to see that we’re going to come out okay, and that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.
Learn From Failure
Human beings create stories to make sense of their experiences, and the stories we tell ourselves can either exacerbate our suffering or alleviate it. When we fail or are in pain, finding meaning from those failures is a really important part of optimism. Even just the hope that you will find meaning or being open to the possibility that there’s a reason for your suffering can help you have an optimistic perspective.
Spend Time With Positive People
It’s been said that we become like the five people who we spend the most time with. Our social circles have a huge impact on our ability to think positively. Emotions and behavioral patterns are contagious; we can really feel each other. I encourage you to surround yourself with people who elevate you. When someone is constantly negative, this may be a sign of clinical depression. I never intend to minimize that. However, some people really do drain our spirits; instead, find people who lift yours.
Count Your Blessings
One of the best ways to practice optimism on a daily basis is to go back to that simple solution of recognizing what you’re grateful for. It might be really tiny things, and that’s okay! What’s going well? What do you have to look forward to? Anne Frank, who witnessed and was victim to the worst said of humanity, wrote “Think of all the beauty around you and be happy.”
Disconnect For A Bit
This one’s a little tricky. It’s important that we stay informed of what’s going on in our world. However, the 24-hour news cycle and the constant bombardment of all that’s wrong in our world can really take its toll, so take a break sometimes. There’s no rule that you need to know everything about every current event. Log out of Facebook, turn off the tv, and spend time doing something in real life.
If everything you’ve tried doesn’t help you feel any better, that’s a really good sign that you may need to reach out for professional help. These strategies aren’t going to help you with clinical depression or anxiety. When constant worrying and concern or low moods interfere with your ability to function, seek out a trained therapist. Our mental health counselors at Wasatch Family Therapy can help.