An optimist tends to expect good things to happen in many situations, and that they are responsible for their success.
There are many benefits to developing a more optimistic outlook. Optimistic people are more confident and persevere in the face of adversity, and they are healthier and live longer.
Positive psychology would suggest that like any other activity or habit, optimism can be learned and developed.
Optimism is an outlook about future circumstances, and by changing our thinking about what will happen and why things happen, we can begin to have a more optimistic attitude.
A very important part of optimistic thinking is how you attribute what happens in your life.
Here are three main types of attributions we can make:
1) External vs. Internal: The belief as to whether the cause of an event lies within us or outside of us.
When something good happens and optimist will attribute this success to themselves, whereas a pessimist will give themselves little credit for success.
2) Permanence: The belief that the cause of an event is permanent or temporary.
Someone with an optimistic outlook will believe good events will happen consistently and often, whereas a pessimist may believe it was a onetime thing or a fluke.
3) Pervasiveness: The belief that the cause of the event is universal or particular.
An optimistic person will believe something good happened based on who they are and the traits they have, whereas a pessimistic person might confine the good outcome to have occurred only in the specific circumstance and would not happen in another situation.
Maybe you tend to take a pessimistic point of view when considering success and positive experiences in your life. If so, below is a great tool to begin changing the way you think about and perceive achievement.
Change your beliefs
Using a Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy (REBT) technique you can start to change your outlook. Apply the ABCDE method to change your thinking, beliefs, and attitude about life.
A – Activating event – What is the specific event, situation, or circumstance that has taken place or is going to take place?
Maybe you had an important date or meeting today.
B – Belief – What thoughts or self-talk are related to this situation?
What are you telling yourself about how it went? Do you give yourself credit where credit is due? Do you recognize the positives just as much as things that could be improved? Do you think you can do well or even better next time?
C – Consequence – How do you feel based on your thoughts and self-talk? What emotions or behavior come from what you have told yourself?
Depending on your beliefs, you could feel empowered, confident, and encouraged, or disappointed, dispirited, and unappreciated.
The important thing to consider is you have a choice in the matter.
After the ABC sequence, when limiting and self-disparaging thoughts have taken place, incorporate “D” and begin to “Dispute” the beliefs.
Dispute the belief by examining if there is any evidence for thinking this way. Is the belief helpful in anyway? How else could you view the situation to feel more empowered?
Lastly, after disputing your beliefs include “E” or new more “Effective” thoughts. These new thoughts provide a catalyst to begin viewing yourself in a more empowered manner, and give you energy to do what needs to be done to deal with the situation.
We won’t always be optimistic, and in fact there may be times when optimism is not the healthiest response. Difficult things will happen in life, and we will need to be resilient, keep hope, and do our best to find value in what has happened.
However, by beginning to think more optimistically in general, we can have a better quality of life with more serenity, peace of mind, and confidence.
Be conscious of your thinking and the views you hold about what you’re capable of what life has to offer.
Remember these two lines from the Optimists Creed:
“To look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism come true.
To think only of the best, to work only for the best and to expect only the best.”
Photo credit: baileyraeweaver