Developing Optimism

Optimists look at life with a certain zest. They trust in themselves and the process. They have faith that things will work out. They look at obstacles as challenges and they presuppose that they will be able to overcome them. They are positive people and believe that good things come from their hard work.

Do you know someone in your life that employs this mentality to maneuver through life? Have you ever wondered how they do it?

Would you like some of this energy? Although there is some research that would suggest that the negative personality type can be inherited, there is also much evidence to support that you can change how you look at the world. Whether your tendency is to be positive or negative, you clearly have the choice to develop skills that will enhance the positive side of you. Are you willing to set aside the time and energy to improve your mental attitude? The answer needs to be a resounding “yes”. If you are ambivalent or hesitant you will likely lack the discipline it takes to train yourself differently.

If you answered “yes”, you must participate in the following steps:
1. Set aside ten- to twenty minutes per day to review your life circumstances.
2. Write out a problem or issue that is worrisome to you.
3. List all of the opportunities this problem gives you to be different or stronger.
4. Repeat the affirmation, ‘This issue will work out for the best.’
5. Visualize it working out. Have fun with this. Close your eyes and imagine all types of scenarios and then pick one to visualize in your mind.
6. Take ten deep breaths and breathe through the visualizations.
7. Appreciate your ability to mentally work out the problem or surrender to it. Accept that the issue will be this way and move forward from it, recognizing that you have gained wisdom from it.

Let’s take an example. Do you have a child that’s doing poorly in school?
1. Spend a few minutes reflecting on your son’s dilemma.
2. Write out the problem. ‘My son is not interested in school and does not put forth the energy to hand in assignments or study for tests.’
3. List the strengths that you have gained from the problem.‘ This is making me stronger because I am improving my parenting by setting consequences for him.’ or ‘This has made me stronger spiritually because I pray to God more often.
4. Your affirmation might be ‘I will remember my son is not a reflection of me and he will find himself in the future.’
5. Visualize your son doing something he wants to do after he graduates that makes him feel successful. or perhaps graduating. Regardless, imagine breathing easier and smiling at his success.
6. Take ten deep breaths.
7. In this case, surrender to the fact that you can’t make him do things. You can only set consequences to reinforce his choices. Surrender to his self-determination and believe that things will work out for the best.

For the negative person who may be wondering if this method fosters denial, the bottom line is that the energy that we put out does influence what happens around us. If you’re setting consequences and being a responsible parent, then it makes sense that you have faith and a belief that your son will eventually succeed. There is nothing wrong with sending out that kind of energy. It will make you feel better, and it may make a difference in how your son looks at himself.

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