by: E.B. Johnson
There is no denying that we are living through chaotic times. Just as soon as we think we’ve gotten ourselves stable, another upset seems to come along and knock our relationships or our wellbeing. How are we supposed to stay focused on creating a life that we love when we’re constantly being disappointed by life and everything (and everyone) in it? If we want to improve our chances of thriving, then we need to look to realistic optimism and our ability to find the silver lining in the upset.
How realistic optimism can improve our lives.
We should all strive to incorporate more optimism into our lives. That’s because being optimistic comes with a lot of benefits. Rather than stressing yourself out and only seeing the world in every situation — you can learn how to turn things around, decrease your negativity, and increase your chances of success in life and love.
It’s only natural that our negativity should decrease when we become more focused on positive things. That’s one of the greatest benefits of realistic optimism. Rather than walking around perpetually in a state of aggravation and fear, you enable yourself to live in a state of hope and of grace. This decreases the negative emotions that we feel and, over time, the negative experiences we undergo.
Building positive feeling
It probably comes as no surprise to you that increasing your optimism increases the happy feelings in your life. That’s because it’s choosing to take a look at the brighter side of laugh. Someone who is realistically optimistic knows that there’re risks, but they’re more focused on getting the outcome they want than they failures they can’t control. To find more happiness in life, you have to seek more happiness in life. This happens when we’re more optimistic.
It should come as no surprise that increasing our optimism actually helps us to improve our relationships. It’s understandable. Happy, positive people make for happier, more positive partners. They can connect much easier, and they generally find it easier to trust one another. Do you want to improve your relationship skills? A lot of that can come down to shifting your perspective and seeing the best in your love — rather than expecting the worst at every turn.
Better coping methods
To be more optimistic about the upsets in life helps us to develop healthier coping mechanisms. Think about it. When you’re a pessimist, you become bogged down by the idea that everything you do is pointless. As failure is the only thing you expect, it’s the only thing you ever find — and that’s defeating. Adopting optimism, though, helps us to embrace life. This new passion at hand, we are able to better care for ourselves in the hard moments and redefine the paths that bring us back to happiness and wholeness.
Although we don’t like to admit it, optimistic people are more successful in almost every facet of life. This isn’t because they’re “luckier” and it’s not even because they experience less misfortune than anyone else. The secret is in the way they handle themselves and in the perspective they choose to employ. The optimist sees opportunity and they see silver linings when other people see closed doors and tragic endings. Want to conquer your goals? Figure out how to be more optimistic about your life.
Believe it or not, seeking to be more optimistic about life can help to improve your physical health. Living constantly in a state of pessimism runs us down and increases the pressure and stress in our lives. This increases the production of hormones like cortisol, which erodes our bodies and even impairs our cognitive abilities. Do you have a lot of unexplained aches and pains? Are you experiencing increased illness or even upset in your gut? All the negativity could be a source of blame.
Better ways to be more realistically optimistic every day.
Are you ready to become more optimistic about the life that you’re leading? Or the relationships that you’re building? You can take steps to see the brighter side of your life, without blinding yourself to the reality of the world that you live in. Build on your self-esteem and trust in your ability to thrive, and it becomes easier to see the silver-lining when things get tough.
1. Boost your self-esteem
To live an optimistic life is to be brave. Our world is chaotic, and it’s challenging to live in. Bad things happen — no matter how hard we work to get it right or make things perfect. In order for us to adopt optimism, we need to start from a strong place of self-esteem. This gives us the courage to see the bright side and the strength to keep moving forward even when things are falling apart.
Build a castle of self-esteem from which you can attack life and defend yourself against its nasty onslaughts of misfortune and heartbreak. To do this, you need to build yourself up. Start with the foundations. What are you good at? What do you love about your body? Celebrating our strengths is how we become brave enough to embrace our weaknesses (and that’s where true self-esteem is found).
You’ve got to work at improving your self-esteem every single day…even after you become confident in who you are and what you want. That’s because the world will do everything that it can to take your confidence from you. The lowest among us love to see the highest among us fall. To separate yourself from that darkness, believe wholeheartedly in your ability and your right to be the person you want to be. Fall in love with yourself and everything that you have to offer the world (and your relationships).
2. Embrace the unexpected
A common mistake we make with optimistic people is assuming that they have easier or simpler lives. Nothing could be further from the truth. To be realistically optimistic is not to choose an easier life. It’s embracing your own life with confidence. To do this, learn how to let go of your fear (or your need to control the outcome) and embrace the unexpected twists and turns that life has in store for us.
Use your self-confidence to embrace challenges, knowing you have what it takes to get through them no matter what. You won’t get everything right in this life. And even when you do — things will still go wrong. Embrace the ride and know you either have or can learn anything you need to in order to overcome the setbacks and the mistakes.
When we embrace the unexpected, we remove a lot of the anxiety and fear that we feel. It’s a bit like having a security blanket forever in our back pocket. We’re much more likely to move forward when we feel confident in our abilities. Build up that confidence and then open up to all the possibilities that are out there for you. Opportunity is everywhere, but we have to be brave enough to see it and pursue it — even when we fear what the outcome may be.
3. Reshape challenges you face
Even as you become more optimistic, you will still encounter setbacks and upsets in your lives. Things are going to go wrong and you are going to be disappointed by the people and opportunities around you. That’s a natural part of life. In order to maintain your budding optimism, however, you have to learn to reshape those challenges. Instead of seeing them as everything wrong in your life, see them as the launching point for your greatness.
Don’t dwell on bad events. Don’t make them the center of your narrative, so that everything else that happens is expected to follow suit. Instead, flip the script. Reshape the challenges that you face and see them as learning opportunities instead of setbacks. After all, they help you be a better person and they help you to realize what you want more fully.
This is ultimately what realistic optimism comes down to. It’s not expecting that nothing bad will ever happen to you. It’s making a conscious decision to spin every situation to your best potential outcome. That means finding the upside, even when you get things wrong. While hard to do at first, it’s a habit that’s pretty easy to get into. Stop allowing yourself to slide back into rumination. Stop allowing your inner critic to hold you back. Discover the silver lining and use it to empower your realistic optimism.
Putting it all together...
We are living through tough times. It can be easy to become pessimistic and doubtful of everything that is good and worthwhile. In order for us to be truly happy, though, we have to embrace more realistic optimism in our lives. That’s how we keep ourselves motivated and driven toward a future that’s aligned with our happiness. Are you ready to look on the brighter side of life? Expect more for yourself and act to achieve it.
Build a castle of self-esteem that you can attack life from. You need to believe in yourself in order to take action in the name of your goals. Embrace the unexpected, knowing you have whatever it takes to get where you want to be in life. There’s no challenge you can’t overcome, so have faith in yourself. When you get things wrong, see it as a learning opportunity and don’t dwell on the negative. Nourish your true self. Establish a self-care routine that allows you to give your inner world everything it needs. When you feel the pressure begin to rise, use realistic visualization to re-focus on the steps you need to take to get through the next experience. Think about the best-case scenario and consider what you need in order to make that happen. The more thoroughly you think things through in this manner, the more optimistic you will become.
- Gallagher, M., Lopez, S., & Pressman, S. (2013). Optimism Is Universal: Exploring the Presence and Benefits of Optimism in a Representative Sample of the World. Journal Of Personality, 81(5), 429–440. doi: 10.1111/jopy.12026