The reality of optimism

Learn what really makes your outlook brighter.

Growing up, whenever I thought I had it bad, my mom would always tell me that there was a good chance someone else out there had it worse than me. This was her way of helping me keep things in perspective. As an adult, I do use this thought process to help me through challenging times. It has helped me deal with negative situations in a much better light. In many cases, it has helped me avoid allowing my days to spiral out of control because of one situation or incident. Consequently, I do tend to look at most situations with a positive, practical lens. What I have learned is that being optimistic is more than thinking positive.

Here are some realities of being “a glass half full” type of person:

  • Positive people don’t think life is great all the time. When they have negative situations or feelings, they have learned to accept and use them as an indication to make a change. 
  • Optimists do experience adversity. They just handle it differently by learning to be resilient. The optimistic person understands that situations don’t drive happiness. They have learned how to better respond or handle situations. 
  • Optimists look at the big picture and not just a moment in time. It is easy to get pessimistic when we have a screen in from of us 24/7 telling us all the bad news that is out there. This often shadows the wonderful, positive good, that is happening every day.

It is never too late to look at life in a more positive way. To help become more optimistic, here are three helpful tips:    

  1. Create a gratitude journal – Every night before you go to sleep write three things (these can be anything big or small) you are truly happy you have in your life. At first, this may be hard but persist and you will feel the joy.
  2. Bring up past positive memories – Research has shown that reminiscing boosts optimism.
  3. Get enough sleep – This cannot be said enough.

Get started on your path to being more optimistic. Your work toward a more positive outlook on life will be worth it.  Research has shown that you will be healthy and live longer.

For more information on stress and anger management programs visit Michigan State University ExtensionMSU Extension offers a variety of educational programs throughout the state. To find a program near you, contact your local MSU Extension county office for more information.

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