Increasing positivity, hope, and optimism in your life and the lives of your loved ones
Some of us are wired to be optimistic and cheerful, even in the face of unrelenting challenges and obstacles. Others have to make a conscious effort to focus the positive. Wherever you are on this continuum, here are a few tips to help you practice, model, and teach a more positive and optimistic approach to life.
• Expect the best for yourself and others.
• Set goals for yourself and work toward them. Help your children set goals and identify ways to reach them.
• Keep a clear, detailed picture of your goal in your mind. Focus on what you want, rather than on avoiding what you don’t want.
• Respect people’s dreams, even if they seem impossible.
• Practice persistence.
• Watch how often you express negative or pessimistic thoughts, or have negative expectations. (For example, do you say something like, “It figures!” when something bad happens?)
• Look for the good that can come out of bad experiences. Remember that disappointments often precede something even better than you originally expected.
• Develop a picture of the world (and your life) as a place of infinite, positive possibilities, even better than you can imagine.
• Fight fear with faith.
• Develop “an attitude of gratitude.”
• Keep your thoughts positive. Notice and acknowledge when you slip into fear, doubt and negativity. Make a deliberate effort to switch to more positive feelings and thoughts.
• Minimize the amount of time you spend with negative or pessimistic people or, if possible, avoid them altogether.
• Make a deliberate effort to eliminate doubt and cynicism. They really don’t protect you from much of anything. (Try, “Well, why not?” instead.)
• Minimize your exposure to negative or pessimistic information, news, and literature. Seek out positive, uplifting resources and read or listen to them regularly.
• Understand that pessimism, negativity, and “scarcity thinking” are all learned traits. They can be unlearned and replaced with more constructive alternatives.
Note: Optimism can be a powerful tool to help us get through the darker times of our lives. That said, just being optimistic does not deny us the right to fear, sadness, or other “uncomfortable” feelings. Nor is optimism a substitute for actual goals and hard work.
Even if we believe that “everything will be alright,” we still have to show up, take risks, practice skills, make mistakes, be imperfect, deal with feelings, work through beliefs that no longer serve us, and stay open to what may turn out to be a very different “alright” outcome.
We can keep things positive and still feel disappointment, frustration, and anger. The main caution here is about using optimism as a way to distract people from their feelings or concerns. These things are not mutually exclusive.
Excerpted and adapted from The Parent’s Little Book of Lists: Do’s & Don’ts of Effective Parenting by Dr. Jane Bluestein, © 2021, Father Sky Publishing, Albuquerque, NM.
© 1997, 2001, 2012, Dr. Jane Bluestein
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Podcast: “An Attitude of Gratitude,” with Judy Lawrence
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