5 Ways to Become More Optimistic

Considering these findings, how can we all become more optimistic? Below are several suggestions that may help. Even if you don’t think you’re a particularly optimistic woman, you can improve. Dr. Kaitlin Hagan, one of the lead researchers on this study, told Harvard Women’s Health Watch that people can change:

“Previous studies have shown that optimism can be instilled by something as simple as having people think about the best possible outcomes for various areas of their lives.”
Dr. Sood agrees, stating that optimism can be learned, and that if women can be optimistic, “they are more likely to have more incremental benefit in their health outcomes compared to men.”

1. Keep a gratitude journal.
Many studies have shown that having an attitude of gratitude is good for us. Optimistic people tend to “look on the bright side.” You can generate these feelings in yourself by keeping a journal in which you record five good things that happened to you each day. Some days it will be easy to find those five things. On the days when it’s more difficult, choose the basics: you didn’t go hungry, you had a roof over your head, someone spoke a kind word to you. Just reminding yourself of the little things that were positive in your day can help relieve stress and improve your mood.

2. When the negative train comes, distract yourself.
We can all get caught in negative thinking. Everything is going wrong. It’s all my fault. If only I’d been smarter and done this rather than that. When will I ever learn?
When you find yourself ruminating over the bad stuff, distract yourself. Give yourself something else to do that will keep your mind busy. Turn on some upbeat music, call a good (positive) friend, clean something, run an errand, or simply go for a run.
Get yourself involved in an activity that requires your focus and attention so you can leave the negativity behind. You don’t have to solve the problem first. Just distract yourself, and you’ll be able to attain a more positive frame of mind—which makes it easier to come up with the solution you need.

3. Practice self-compassion.
Neff says that the easiest way to do this is to treat yourself as you would your very close friend. When you find yourself criticizing or otherwise being hard on yourself, stop and ask, “What would I say to a close friend about this?” Talk it out. Actually say what you would say, and then direct that same type of approach back to yourself.
Neff also suggests some form of physical touch that encourages self-compassion. You can place your hand over your heart, give yourself a hug, or wrap yourself in a warm blanket. It may seem a little goofy at first, but mind and body are closely related. Do one of these things and you’ll automatically feel more cared for. Your physical self will respond by becoming more relaxed.

4. Practice mindfulness. 
Mindfulness is the practice of learning to live in the moment. It may involve meditation, but it can also involve paying attention to your thoughts and feelings without judging them.
Practicing mindfulness can help you deal more successfully with unpleasant events. If you’re staying in the moment, you’re more likely to avoid catastrophic thinking about the future, and keep your focus on what you need to do right now to make things better.
This can help us to feel more in control, which reduces stress.

5. Spend more time with optimistic people.
Negative, pessimistic people sap our energy. If you’ve got negative friends that you’re spending a lot of time with, it’s going to be really hard for you to feel more optimistic. You’ll be battling the pessimistic attitudes around you, which creates an uphill battle.
Instead, cultivate your relationships with more positive friends, as they will help boost your mood and increase your hope for the future. If most of your friends are negative Nancy’s, join some new clubs or groups or take a new class to find some women who are more positive in general.

Just Think About It
One more thing you can do that has proven effective in a 2011 study is simply spending five minutes imagining your future self in a positive light. Your job is going great, your kids are thriving, your house is a dream, and you have achieved everything you wanted to achieve. Things are just going great, overall.
Researchers found that when people did this, they significantly increased their optimism after the first day and even after two weeks. So you can use this technique whenever you want to, and enjoy a more positive attitude.
Over time, you can develop the habit of optimism, which may be just as important to your long-term health as eating a healthy diet and exercising every day.

 


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