MAY has a wonderful life. She has a loving husband, two healthy children and a cosy home. Her outlook is optimistic. When things get tough she reaches out to her husband and to her friends for support.
May is not afraid to say that she is having a bad day or the reason why. She doesn’t hold grudges and she tries to give others the benefit of the doubt. She doesn’t believe that one bad thing leads to another either.
May looks for the best in each situation and trusts that things always work out for the better. She is not afraid to roll up her sleeves and make things happen. Most importantly, May is grateful for the abundance in her life every day.
KIM also has a good life. She too has a loving husband who adores her, two healthy children and a cosy home.
However, Kim’s outlook is pessimistic. When things get tough she blames herself and thinks that somehow she is cursed with bad luck. Instead of reaching out to friends for support, Nancy bottles up her emotions, and reaches for food or alcohol instead.
Moreover, she holds grudges and is mistrustful of others. Kim focusses on the worst-case scenario and fears that things will only get worse.
She is constantly afraid that her husband will divorce her, that her children will turn against her, and that she will lose her home.
Kim takes a passive approach to her happiness, believing that fate has dealt her a certain hand and that there is nothing she can do to ensure her happiness.
Instead of being grateful for all that she has, she worries about losing it all.
Which person do you identify with? What’s your attitude towards life? Are you a “sunshine person” or a “cloud person”?
Your attitude determines how circumstances impact your life. The good news is, optimism is a life skill that can be learned. Here are 6 ways to be a happy, smiling, “sunshine person” from Edel Jarboe’s “Learning Optimism” article in The Insight Newsletter (an online self-help magazine).
1 OVERCOME NEGATIVE THINKING WITH POSITIVE THINKING. Our negative thoughts have a great deal of power over us. They feed on themselves, multiplying until our spirit is smothered under a pile of “what ifs”.
Since negative thinking is a habit we must replace it with another habit. Start by paying attention to your thoughts. When you catch yourself indulging in a negative thought, say, “Stop”.
Then immediately rephrase the negative statement into something more positive.
2 LEARN TO TRUST OTHERS. When you reach out to others you find yourself. If you have a hard time trusting others, begin reaching out to others in small ways. Take small steps towards building your trust in others.
First of all, be yourself then be willing to give others the benefit of the doubt. Don’t assume the new member of your games club doesn’t like you, for example, just because she disagreed with your assessment of the last badminton match you played.
3 DON’T BE AFRAID TO EXPRESS YOURSELF. Identify what you are feeling and learn how to express these feelings in healthy and constructive ways.
If you aren’t comfortable opening up with another person just yet, start out by writing down what you are feeling. Really get into it. Let your emotions flow across the page.
After you are comfortable expressing your emotions on paper, share what you are feeling with someone you trust. Don’t assume that no one wants to hear about your day, for example. Rather when you share something amusing or frustrating about your day with someone, it opens a bridge of understanding.
4 STOP LIVING UP TO OTHER PEOPLE’S EXPECTATIONS. When you are living your life exclusively to please others or to project a certain image, you lose a bit of yourself in the process. You lose touch with who you really and what really makes you happy. Don’t do this to yourself.
Stop looking for approval outside of your own heart. Whose love or approval are you trying to earn and why? Once you figure this out, have the courage to deal with this issue head-on and begin living your life for you.
5 GET RID OF A VICTIM MENTALITY. Take responsibility for your happiness because life doesn’t just happen. The choices you make or don’t make directly influence your current and future situation.
While you may not always be in control of circumstances, you are responsible for your choices. Never forget this. Stop blaming others and life in general for where you are now. Own up to your life so that you can own your happiness.
In other words, don’t be shy about making things work out for yourself. Don’t be shy about reaching for your happiness with both hands.
6 EXPRESS YOUR GRATITUDE, NOT YOUR FEARS. What you focus on is what you get. The more you focus on the negative, the more it is manifested in your life. Stop focussing so much on what you do not have or on what is not working out as you had planned.
Make the conscious effort to focus on all that is good and abundant in your life and to look for the lesson in your difficult situations.
Believe that something better than what you had imagined is in store for you. Believe that your happiness is a sure thing and it will be.
“Thoughts, positive or negative, grow stronger when fertilised with constant repetition.”
“The pleasure you get from your life is equal to the attitude you put into it.”
“Your success, health, happiness and wealth can be attributed to the choice of your attitude.”
“The most significant decision you can make on a day-to-day basis is the choice of your attitude.”
Don’t become a “negaholic”. Choose to be positive — the positive mind has extra solving power!