Optimism is a choice and it’s a possibility that available to all of us. If optimism hasn’t come naturally to you, it’s simply a consequence of habits of thinking which can be changed. Changing the way you think takes focused effort, but it works more quickly than you might guess. Plus, the fast return on your effort helps support your enthusiasm to keep at it.
The Dreambook – the life planner Briana and I created – is an excellent tool for implementing such a change. Simply following the method in the book will make you more optimistic. You’ll be doing things like: identifying your gifts, values, and purpose and consciously bringing them into your daily activities; clarifying your dreams and figuring out what truly makes you feel happy and productive; setting goals, breaking them down into manageable plans, and scheduling those plans in your calendar; prioritizing the things that feed your soul; expressing gratitude; and more.
Besides resulting in great tangible improvements, this structure builds self-trust and a positive outlook. It works.
Beyond the basic processes in the book, you can use its planning, scheduling, and tracking tools to work in scientifically proven tactics for supporting an optimistic mindset. Here are a few to try:
- Do kind things for people every day.
- Print out pictures of friends, family, inspiring people and put them in your space.
- Meditate. It supports peace, positivity, and perspective.
- Avoid negative media (and reduce media consumption overall).
- Spend money on fun and memorable experiences (rather than entirely on stuff)
- Treat your leisure time as a deliberate and purposeful activity. Go all-in, don’t be thinking about the “productive” things you could be doing instead.
- Routinely remind yourself of your strengths. If you can’t readily think of them, ask friends to help you identify them and write them down.
- Cultivate a “growth mindset” – believe in your ability to improve, and see failure as a learning experience.
- Maintain an environment that’s full of humor, happiness, and beauty and take little breaks throughout the day to notice these things.
- When stuck in a mundane task, figure out a way that it’s going to serve a higher purpose. Even if it seems relatively insignificant in itself, what does it enable that’s more important?
- As you begin a task take a moment to expect a positive outcome (using self-talk about your strengths and track record, or simply visualizing things going well). This primes you to perform well and spot opportunities.
- Focus on what’s working well in your life.
- Make a commitment to stop complaining.
- Write down what you’re grateful for daily.
- Give a genuine compliment to someone every day.
- Catch yourself in negative trains of thought; pick up your attention and put it on something else.
- Remember that a hardship is not a sign that everything is going wrong, or that it’s bound to snowball into more hardship. Every day people turn hardship into opportunity.
- Before speaking / posting, ask yourself: (1) Is it true? (2) Is it kind? (3) Is it necessary? (4) What is my purpose? (5) Does it improve upon the silence?
- Slow and deepen your breathing – this helps slow down your mind and promotes more evolved thinking.
- Sit / stand up straight. Don’t slouch.
- Journal about your positive experiences – this grows them and helps them sink in.
- Appreciate small changes in the right direction. Lots of small changes are more likely and more sustainable than one giant change, and they amount to the same degree of change.
- Exchange touch more often. A hug, a pat on the shoulder, a handshake, a massage – we’re wired to associate welcome touch with feeling safe, calm, and connected.
- Make it harder for yourself to engage in behaviors that don’t serve you (e.g., put the candy out of reach).
- Make it easier for yourself to engage in behaviors that are good for you (e.g., put your exercise equipment in a place that’s easy to access and pre-determine when / where / how you’re going to exercise).
- Prioritize your relationships!
- Don’t get pessimistic by focusing on short-term downward trends; back up far enough to see the broader trend toward betterment.
- Read about the lives of impressive people.
- Believe in human potential, ingenuity, and compassion. We can accomplish incredible things.
Whew! That’s enough to completely revolutionize even the most cynical pessimist’s perspective.
I encourage you to copy/paste or print out that list and stick it in your 2022 Dreambook and work these approaches into your schedule. Pepper your pages with reminders. Give each one a good, consistent shot. Positive people don’t just have a better experience of life, they change the experience of those around them.