By Victor Perton
Here's our collection of habits you can adopt to be more optimistic and you can share with others to help them become more optimistic. Rather than trying to adopt them all at once, pick one and give it a go for a week or two.
Infectiously Optimistic 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..."
Laugh like an Optimist: Laugh More
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 Yourself, "What makes me Optimistic?"
Asking this question is at the core of The Centre for Optimism's work and research.
Ask yourself this question "What makes me Optimistic?"
What makes you believe that good things will happen and that things will work out in the end?
Take a piece of paper or use the keyboard and record your answer, “What makes you optimistic?”
Use our 5-minute survey, which is a good guide.
Is it the opportunity to come? Life experience? Positive family and friends? Your mindset?
We’ve collected thousands of answers, and there are no repeats - each of us has a different set of reasons to believe all will be well in the future - that things will work out.
Amongst my favourites is a neuroscientist’s answer "Optimism is the evidence for the dreams yet to be realised.”
Or a journalist’s “Optimism is our best chance to be alive instead of just live.”
Make this a regular habit. Some people read a daily optimism affirmation and answer the question on a daily basis. We’d recommend once a month - set aside 15 minutes.
Asking yourself this question helps you look to the future with a more positive and optimistic lens. It makes the present happier.
Science says it’s likely you will be happier and healthier.
If you share your optimism with others, it’s likely that you will lift their spirits.
And if you ask them what makes them optimistic, you will be even more infectiously optimistic.
Ask Others, "What makes you Optimistic?"
Ask someone you love and admire this question "What makes you Optimistic?"
Each time you do this, you will lift the person and yourself.
The chances are you are the first person to ask them that question. Most people will pause and respond with a bright and happy answer.
Some will be confused, and you may need to prompt them. The definition of optimism is a belief that things will work out in the end. Some people add, "if it hasn't worked out, it's not the end."
You can share some thought starters from "The Optimists on Optimism."
This is a brilliant regular exercise at any Board, Executive or Team Meeting. Much better than that tedious negative question "What's keeping you awake at night." Other than loud noises, very few things keep the optimist awake at night.
We don't think it's an every-meeting practice - your underlying source of optimism shouldn't change so often; Quarterly or monthly to open a meeting is a very useful way of keeping team spirits up.
Practice Gratitude like an Optimist
Gratitude is one of the underpinnings of optimism. While striving to reach our goals, it’s important to feel grateful for what we have today.
The science on this is clear. Respected university studies show that habits of being consciously thankful make people more optimistic for an extended time and more optimistic about their lives in general.
There are two elements to this.
The first is to actively thank people more often. Thank people face to face, make sure to send messages, gifts and the practices you know so well. You know this well but in our hectic lives it's too easy to forget to say thanks rather than sorry.
The second is to record your gratitude regularly and preferably on a daily basis. 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.
Think Like an Optimist
It's a habit involving you contradicting negative thoughts as they appear.
Not every cloud has a silver lining, but people often ruminate negatively on small matters.
Daydream Like an Optimist
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.
Use the Language of Optimism
If you can fit in an optimistic word or phrase into any piece of writing, you will lift the reader.
As Dr KH Kim wrote, "Research has shown that you can develop your optimistic attitude by practising positive speech and actions in everyday activities. Then, refine your outlook by taking a positive path forward in every circumstance.
We also suggest you experiment with changing your greetings and responding to the question, "How are you?
Write, Share and Display 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.
Manage your Time Like an Optimist
When you receive an invitation, ask yourself the question "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.
Surround Yourself with Optimistic People
Generally, optimists attract other optimists, which 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.
The Optimist Reduces their Reliance on "The News"
There is a lot of evidence to show that most media "news outlets" have become more and more negative over the last 50 years to the point where they are almost all biased toward pessimism, bad news, discord and dissension.
An Experiment: 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.
Share Stories of Hope and Optimism
Forgive and Forget like an Optimist
Learn like an Optimist
“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”
This is also expressed well by Harvey Deutschendorf, who wrote, "Being optimistic lets us believe that the future will be even better than the past. Optimists look forward to what’s to come with excitement and anticipation, not trepidation. Management guru Peter Drucker, who lived into his nineties, made it a goal to learn one new thing every year. One year he learned to speak Japanese. Not only does learning support us in our efforts to think more optimistically, it equips us with the actual skills we’ll need to achieve our goals and take advantage of opportunities when they do show up."
Compassionate Like an Optimist
Some Other Suggestions to Enhance your Optimism
Do Some Yoga
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 breathe in the fresh air and beautiful vistas.
Don't give into negativity bias.
Read more of these inspiring quotable quotes in "Optimism: The How and Why" by Victor Perton, CEO of The Centre for Optimism.