If the past 12 months have taught the world anything, it’s the importance of optimism during a time of crisis.
When you’re locked in your home and distanced from the ones you love, life begins to lose its stimulation. Even now, with many stores and venues reopening in the U.S., our lives are nothing like before. Humans crave connection, and by seeing so many people suffering simultaneously, it’s easy to feel helpless.
But there is one important thing you can contribute to the energy of your environment, and that is your attitude. Optimism is not only essential to our survival, but it’s contagious too. So you can help other people feel better by being positive yourself.
Now, I don’t mean rainbows, butterflies and clear skies. That isn’t realistic. And you don’t want to start taking unnecessary risks because you think you’re invincible. I am simply talking about maintaining the belief that things will get better.
Optimism is potent, and no matter how confined you are in your current city, it will open your mind and spirit up to possibilities and fresh ideas. The best part? It’s a totally teachable skill!
Get ready to ditch the Debbie Downer mentality and soak up the sunshine on the Bright Side!
Got The Blues? You’re Not Alone
Last spring, the University of Connecticut and Brown University began a joint initiative called The Pandemic Journaling Project. Over 750 people of all ages and backgrounds kept digital diaries as part of the social experiment. The result is “perhaps one of the most complete records of North Americans’ internal adjustments over months of pandemic, protest and political division.”
What researchers found was that for most individuals, the daily monotony of lockdown seemed endless, and it really eroded their mental health as restrictions went on. Loneliness and despair began to seep in. It was difficult for people to see an end in sight, and the psychological impact is something scientists and historians will be examining for decades to come.
Science has shown us many times the importance of optimism for patients facing serious surgery or coping with difficult diseases. They are less susceptible to the negative impact of symptoms and treatments. And people were less likely to feel fatigue or suffer from depression.
Maintaining a positive outlook on life also helps healthy people live longer. You’re less likely to smoke or develop diabetes or high cholesterol. And you’re more likely to maintain a healthier body mass because optimists tend to exercise more often and consistently (go endorphins!). Not to mention they report being more satisfied in their relationships and careers.
Optimism is especially beneficial to your heart. One study at Harvard and Boston University evaluated 1,306 middle-aged men over a ten year period. They found that “the most pessimistic men were more than twice as likely to develop heart disease than the most optimistic men, even after taking other risk factors into account.”
Turning The Tide
If you’re not a natural optimist, never fear! It is a skill like any other, and you can absolutely learn how to see the silver lining more often. 😉
I recommend you start with reframing your “failures”. I use quotations on purpose because when something doesn’t work out the way we planned or expected, it does not mean there is something wrong with our actions and especially, with us as a person.
Instead of looking at these situations as an ending, see them as opportunities for growth and adopt the beginner’s mindset to start things anew. After all, resistance can help us grow too.
“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity;Winston Churchill
an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”
Come On, Get Happy
You’ve probably heard of the popular Yale happiness class. Since being offered online to the public in 2018, over 3.3 million people have enrolled. All that data has given the university’s psychology department a pretty good idea of which behaviors create the biggest positive change in a person’s overall mood and outlook on life.
Unsurprisingly, the top 3 habits were ones we talk a lot about here: good sleep, gratitude and helping others. So in addition to viewing obstacles that pop up in a new light, be sure to incorporate these three healthy habits into your routine.
They are sure to support your new (or renewed!) sense of optimism!
LOVE + smiles!