How does a successful optimist work? First, we need to know what success means.
What does success mean to you? Is it about money? Your job? Your role? All of this is temporary success because it stems from the outside, on comparing myself to others and if I’m basing my success on comparisons, then whose standards am I using to judge my own success by? When we look at others, we are comparing our inside to their outside.
So, let’s look at some of the alternatives. A good quality of life. Feeling happy no matter what. A sense of humour. Able to laugh at oneself. Feeling content with oneself. This form of success is self-lead, it stems from the inside, and gives us inner power.
Being an optimist is about being positive. Using positive words and hopeful language, because what we think, is what we draw towards ourselves. A successful optimist is careful about the language they use. For example, “I mustn’t forget my keys” versus “I must remember my keys”. Our thoughts are powerful, so let me filter them by checking if my thoughts are empowering and useful.
As an optimist I will be self-accepting. I see myself as I am. I am not perfect, this is who I am at this moment in time, with all my treasures and flaws. I accept that I can change and frequently ask myself, ‘do I like a particular aspect about myself? Or do I want to change it?’ Optimism is the hope that I can change things about myself and give myself the chance to try. I acknowledge what I do well and believe I can learn new things and grow. The optimist likes to learn and finds out if something is good for them or not. Every experience brings new learning, and this makes us optimistic.
An optimistic goes with flow, if plans change it’s an opportunity to learn new things and have new experiences. As I learn more about me, I become more confident to be me, and I can handle situations that come my way. When we are ready to be open to whatever life brings – creativity flourishes. I become more open to new things. Optimism brings more satisfaction to my life and builds better coping skills. It increases my resilience. I don’t become damaged by situations; I bounce back. I can look at things from all angles and find solutions. If we look, in almost every case, we have the answers, we just have to stay engaged with the situation and keep moving forward, and we will come out the other side. Optimism helps us do this. Seeing that everything happens for a reason prevents me from becoming too bogged down. I see that the challenge will stretch me, and my capacity to grow. Sometimes we might have to dig deep to see the positive and we can train our brain to start working in this way. I stop wallowing in the negative, instead asking myself, ‘what is the positive in this for me?’ I am like a river flowing around a rock. We teach ourselves that we can deal with whatever comes.
If I’m experiencing stress, I look to see if there’s a pattern that’s triggering a negative spiral? If it keeps happening, maybe there’s a lesson to learn that I haven’t yet learnt. What am I meant to be learning about me in this situation? Bring it back to me? I am the only one at the centre of my world. Something has happened that created that negative pattern. Start to play with it and you will sort it out little by little.
If people around us are going through a bad patch, I can remain optimistic for that person and their situation. I can deeply listen to the other person, so they feel heard and share tips I found useful in the past. Remembering, I am not responsible for them. I am only responsible for my own happiness. When calm, we’re more likely to find the right words to say and remain positive inside ourselves and stay positive towards them.
How can we remain optimistic in an increasingly challenging world? I can send good wishes – positive thoughts and feelings – to all sides. I replace any negative thoughts or images with good ones. Collectively our good wishes have tremendous power. Getting upset doesn’t change anything. I don’t have to like them or the situation to send good wishes, in fact, if I don’t, even more reason to send good wishes. Also, let me be the best I can be in the situation. I don’t focus on what I can’t do because it makes me feel helpless, I have good wishes and do small things that come before myself. My small positive contribution can help make things better. I watch my good wishes flow in their direction.
Self-responsibility and self-ownership is about being the problem-solver. If I receive upsetting or unexpected feedback, especially if I thought I was doing well, I remain objective. If this is about a third person, I go back and explain that what they said took me by surprise, I ask them what I can do to change the outcome. I learn to motivate myself and have the attitude that I can see my strengths and work on my weaknesses. Not saying ‘if they hadn’t done that…’. Whatever comes to me is for my benefit and my growth This takes courage and builds respect all round. Self-responsibility can be scary – but it’s empowering and liberating.
Being a successful optimist is not about burying your head in the sand, it’s about searching for the good in yourself, in others and in situations. It’s about knowing how to measure your success; making effort to change old habits by catching them, accepting them, and adapting them. It’s about being grateful for your strengths and the knowledge that you can change your weakness. This way, you’ll begin to own your life versus being dependent on the actions of others; and start enjoying being ‘you’.
Why not start your day with a guided 15-minute morning meditation to set an optimistic tone for your day?