Hope springs eternal, they say. But if your daily life has more dread and worry than smiles and laughs, you're not alone.
Behind all the positive affirmations, tips for a healthy life and better abs in 10 days, you’re likely to find many who are also world-weary or secretly hopeless.
But none of us have to “hide” behind the facade of a happy face. Optimism can be learned. You can create a real foundation of hope and happiness with some new thought habits.
These simple meditation exercises will show you how.
Practicing them will help you replace despair with hope and build your optimism muscles for a running start on a sunnier outlook.
It’s true. The longer we live, the more life experience—with its losses, disappointments and traumas—we’ve accumulated. It’s also true that there is beauty, magic, triumph, hard won skill, small victories and great big laugh-out-loud moments in every day, if you know where to look.
Here are some helpful techniques and ideas that will show you how to find them.
1. Embrace Reality
Our optimism and attitude toward life, and our willingness to continue with it despite our struggles, depends a lot on the meaning we assign to our experiences.
If we can start viewing our failures and disappointments as traction for our lives rather than a formidable obstacle course we can engage more joyfully with life.
Optimism takes practice. If you interpret failure and disappointment to mean that you are unworthy of happiness or success, it will destroy your motivation to keep taking risks in life. But if you can practice riding through, or even anticipating, the rough patches, you’ll come to more easily see resiliency and competency as the reward.
Just because you did a face plant the first time you strapped on your rollerblades doesn’t mean you won’t be gliding down the road like an Olympian in a few weeks. After all, you bought the skates because you really wanted to enjoy skating.
The main author of the original "Joy of Cooking," Irma Rombauer, became the most authoritative cookbook author in America. But she barely knew how to boil an egg when she set out to write her book.
Optimists keep trying until they succeed because they love learning and, for them, the thought of giving up is more depressing than repeated failures.
You can not only get a grip on reality, you can learn to embrace reality, once you get the hang of making it beautiful.
2. Be Okay Regardless of Outcome
This idea is similar to the Buddhist precept of not being attached to the outcome, only it’s more literal.
Next time you find yourself stressing out about why someone isn’t calling you back or worrying over the consequences of a mistake you made, just stop in your tracks and tell yourself, “I’m strong enough to deal with, and good enough to be perfectly okay with, whatever situation presents itself from my actions.”
Resolving to be okay ahead of time eliminates unnecessary worry and anxiety.
You know things always work out in the end. You are living proof! You’re still breathing and reading this, aren’t you? That just goes to show you how optimistic you are that you can improve your life.
As long as you are still around to live the life you’ve been given, there is hope in every moment. The more you practice optimism, the better you become at finding purpose
and joy in living.
Yes, living can be risky. But every day holds equal potential for really great things to happen, too. Learn to
chase after them
instead of running away from worries and fears that may never come to pass.
3. Go for the Laughs
Last, but not least, look for the humor in things. Some of life’s richest ironies and funniest jokes are born of the darkest moments. Humor heals, and it feels good to laugh.
Get in the habit of watching comedy, reading the comics, calling friends who have a great sense of humor and make you laugh. Laughter lights up your brain’s happiness centers, energizes your body, improves breathing and, because laughing makes you breathe deeper and improves circulation it’s good for your complexion too!
In any given situation, no matter how grim, there are always the conditions for optimism. Loss, for example, is an opportunity to rebuild. That could mean asking for help from someone you’ve never asked before, rebuilding a broken relationship, moving to a new town, and many other fresh starts.