With so much uncertainty these days, it is hard to stay upbeat, especially if you tend toward pessimism rather than optimism—largely a personality trait resulting from your genetics, upbringing and experience. However, by replacing pessimistic thoughts and practices with more positive ones, you can retrain your brain to be more optimistic and, in turn, enjoy better mental and physical health, no matter the situation. Here’s how to shift to optimism:
Dispute your pessimistic thoughts and self-talk. Become aware of negative thoughts, feelings and memories that upset you. Write them out, or do a creative project to help draw them out of yourself. Then, practice saying nice things to yourself, avoiding automatic self-criticism. You might need a qualified counselor or another health practitioner to help you with this process.
Increase activities that help you reach a relaxed state. Choose things that make you feel light-hearted or contented such as watching a funny movie, playing with your dog, taking a scented bath, doing yoga, walking in the forest, etc.
Really tune into the good things in your life. Savor that fresh salad and take in a kindly compliment deeply, for example. To prompt this mindset, keep a journal, writing down five things you are grateful for daily.
Hang out with positive-minded, motivated people. Seek out those who look forward to what’s ahead with excitement, not fear. They tend to attract other optimists, so in time, you will have built an encouraging support system, boosting your own optimism.
Follow healthy habits that support a good mood and positive energy. Get adequate sleep, rest, manage your stress, follow a nutritious diet, exercise regularly, and make supportive social connections. The better you feel, the brighter your outlook will be.
When facing a challenge, focus on achieving solutions, rather than dwelling on problems. Switching to a solution-based focus immediately gives you a sense of movement, possibility and hope—the keys to optimism. Try to look for any small improvement in the current situation as a solution.
Before sleeping, remind yourself what went well today. Then, when you wake, start thinking about what you want to accomplish and the positive outcome.