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The Habits of the Optimist

Some people are born optimists.  The rest of us need to work on it!  Each of the orange and green boxes below lead to resources on this Centre for Optimism website.

Smile Like an Optimist

Start the day smiling at your housemates be they spouse, children and parents. This can be hard but give it a go!  Keep it going when you leave the house.  Smile at strangers and say good morning.  Remember to add smilies to your messages.

Use Better Greetings 

Try out some new ways of greeting people and responding to greetings.  

Instead of say, "How are you?" Try "What's the best thing happening for you"

Instead of responding "Not bad." or "Not too bad" try a pause...  "Thanks for asking, I have just had an interesting..."

Hang Out with Optimists

Generally, optimists attract other optimists, and those other optimists will boost your own optimism, joy and happiness.  It can become a virtuous circle, but you first need to seek it out or set it up.  Choose your company wisely and limit the time you spend with people who do not fill your cup of optimism and self-confidence.  Lead the conversation with positive questions.  Prepare for gatherings by bringing to mind positive stories you have heard or read recently.

Meghan, Duchess of Sussex says ”it’s so important to surround yourself with people who are grounded and really optimistic.”

Turn Down the News 

Don’t listen to or read the news till you leave for work.  Try this for one week.  Ask your family, housemates and colleagues to share positive stories they read or hear. 

Practise Gratitude 

Writing a few sentences on your gratitude each week or each day on what makes you grateful is enough.

Daily Gratitude Reflections

Ideally, keep a journal - best in hard-copy - buy a beautiful or elegant notebook for this purpose.  Some people prefer to keep this as a file on their computer or smart-phone, that’s fine too - whatever works best for you.  Write down three things for which you were grateful today.  First thing in the morning before radio or news, read back what you wrote last night.

Meditate and Pray for Optimism 

Meditation enhances your optimism.   Meditations on optimism and related topics can strengthen your optimism even more.  So too prayer.  

Write Positive Affirmations

Reading the thoughts of others is positive - imagine the greater strength of focusing on your own wisdom and insights and writing them down. There’s evidence that it is a way of lifting yourself and those around you.  Share them with others face-to-face and on social media when you feel the quality merits it. Writing down short statements can help remind you of your strengths.  While I don’t like yellow post-its, many people do and you can leave those affirmations in places to help you, family and friends.

Your Best Possible Self 

Visualisation and daydreaming are powerful human tendencies.  They are very healthy and can be harnessed to make you more optimistic and more infectiously optimistic.  Visualise your best possible self and imagine a future in which all your goals have been achieved.   The experts suggest writing it down.  Personally, I keep it in a document on my computer which I review once a month.  There’s good evidence that it is a way of lifting yourself and those around you.  Try it now.

Laugh Like an Optimist 

University studies have shown laughter can improve your immune system. increase disease fighting antibodies and lower inflammation in the body. Laughter increases heart rate and blood flow, and has similar health benefits to exercising. Endorphins are released during laughter, which helps to relieve pain, reduce cravings and stress, and slow the ageing process.

Ask Others “What makes you optimistic?”

Asking this question is at the core of The Centre for Optimism's work and research.

Ask yourself this question "What makes you Optimistic?" and write down the answer.  Share your answer in our million voices of optimism project.

Ask some you admire this question "What makes you Optimistic?" and write down the answer.  Share your answer in our million voices of optimism project.


Some Other Suggestions to Enhance your Optimism

  • When you receive an invitation, ask yourself the questions "Will this bring me great joy?  Will this advance my mission?  Is it something I must do?"  If the invitation doesn't meet any of those three criteria, say no!  These are my three rules of time management.  Of course, sometimes I break them because people ask for help in areas and I haven't learned to say no.
  • Seek out activities that bring you joy.
  • Do someone else a favour.
  • Accept that the world is chaotic
  • Go to beautiful places: Get out into Nature and breath in the fresh air and beautiful vistas.
  • Don't give into negativity bias.
More Materials on Optimism Habits

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