I consider myself an optimist, and generally have a positive outlook on the future. I would prefer to think that it’s not a Pollyanna type of optimism, rather it’s a confidence that things will go well, and I have control (or at least some influence) on my future.
Optimism leads to unexpected benefits, and generally improves so many aspects of life. Many of the benefits may not be associated with optimism, including the quality of our relationships, the trust we have with other people, and our health and wellbeing. But, optimism played a key role in each of these areas.
I believe that optimism and joy are related. By finding joy and sharing joy in our lives, we can build optimism. Joy is different than happiness. Although the dictionary definition disagrees with me on that. Joy is an infusion or burst of positive vibes or happiness that is unexpected but appreciated. Joy feeds your optimism.
What brings me optimism?
- Nature. Spend some time outdoors, anywhere you choose, and it’s hard not to have optimism fill you up. One surefire boost to my optimism is watching early spring flowers including snowdrops, crocus, and daffodils pop up despite cold temperatures and snow.
- Kindness. Whether it’s a smile from a stranger, someone holding the door for you, or another unexpected gesture, kindness can really change your outlook.
- People. We need relationships in our lives, and other people to feed our soul. It’s part of who we are. Those that are closest to us play a key role in building our optimism. We do the same for them.
- Animals. My dog is always happy to see me, and expecting that he could receive a cookie at any moment. What better reminder of optimism is there than that? My horses live in the moment, they don’t worry about the past or the future. And that enjoyment of each moment gives me optimism that I too can become more mindful and appreciative.
- Gratitude. When I think about everything that I have, and how fortunate I am, it’s hard not to be optimistic. I have a wonderful life (and I hope you do too), and my gratitude feeds my optimism and sets the tone for the future.
My sense of optimism has developed over time. Ten years ago, prior to cancer diagnoses, chemotherapy, and a stem cell transplant I wasn’t as optimistic. I had some incredibly life altering experiences that changed who I am, and created a larger sense of optimism in me, partly because I realized how precious life is, and that I need to enjoy it while I can.
Medical hiccups were also one of the largest challenges to my optimism. I struggled, as anyone going through challenging times does. I learned resiliency, and that helped improve my optimism.
If you’re struggling with optimism, start seeking little things that bring you joy. Change the soundtrack in your head if you catch yourself thinking negatively. Soon, you’ll find that the moments of joy are building your optimistic outlook.