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How to be Optimistic, Even if Times are Tough


There are a variety of reasons why you should want to be optimistic. This positive state of mind has been verified as a successful strategy to prevent mental and physical illness, and people who practice optimism regularly do better at work, school and sports, are less depressed and have better personal relationships.

Optimists have problems too … but they choose to focus on the good things in life instead.

What’s not to like?

Well, if given the option most of us would gladly choose to stay positive all the time. But then this pesky thing called reality keeps getting in the way. The economy is slumping. Jobs are hard to come by and those of us who have one are waiting on-edge for the next round of lay-offs. Some of us are having trouble making basic ends meet, and others are already unable to and are drowning in debt.

To put it lightly, many of us have a lot to complain about. But then again, many of us have a lot to be thankful for too, no? This is the simple difference between someone who is optimistic and someone who is pessimistic; it’s all about mindset.

"Of course, optimists get stressed," says David Snowdon, a professor of neurology at the University of Kentucky in a Prevention article. "But they automatically turn the response off much more quickly and return to a positive mental and physical state."

The good news is that you, too, can learn how to switch on that “happy” switch, even when times are tough -- and here’s how.

  1. Be grateful for what you have. Your mother may have told you this when you were young, and it’s still a basic rule to live for. Instead of focusing on what you don’t have, focus on what you do. The simple change in attitude can do wonders for your mental state, and expressing gratitude regularly has been linked to better health, well-being and progress toward your goals. A simple way to get started is to jot down 10 things you love about your life every day.
  1. Do something kind for someone. Studies show that doing five good deeds a day can make you happier, and volunteering has been linked to a heightened sense of well-being. If you need some motivation, watch someone else do something kind. Just witnessing the act has been found to boost your mood and make you more likely to do nice things as well.

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  1. Communicate positively. When you speak or write, always phrase things in a positive way. For example, instead of saying to your spouse, “You’d better not be late for dinner,” try, “I’m really looking forward to having dinner with you at 7:00.”
  1. Turn adversity into opportunity. A failure or a hard time is only a bad thing if you let it be. Realize that successful people fail, and have likely failed many times to get where they are. So when you do fail, embrace it. Turn the failure into a positive by figuring out what went wrong, then applying what you learned to your next endeavor.
  1. Think only positive thoughts about yourself, your life and your value for others. If negative thoughts enter your mind, allow yourself to feel good. “Focus on the positive actions and desired outcomes instead of listening to demoralizing, demeaning self-talk or negative chatter,” says Founder John Dearlove.
  1. Laugh easily and smile often. And, engage in experiences that enable you to do so. It's proven to help you stay positive.
  1. Make sure every thought that goes through your head about YOU is something positive.

    Replace negative thoughts with positive ones. Practicing daily affirmations after you wake up, before bed or anytime during the day can help your thoughts to focus only on the bright side. When you feel stressed out, affirmations can also help you to relax. The Pure Relaxation CD, which uses guided meditations and music that will calm your mind, soothe your emotions and create a state of deep relaxation in your body, is a also an excellent tool to help you do so.
  1. Live in the present. Dwelling over the past (either good or bad times), worrying about the future or even waiting until tomorrow to “get your life together” causes you unnecessary stress and hardship. Focus instead on the present moment and what’s happening here and now. You’ll find doing so creates a newfound sense of peace and well-being.

Recommended Reading

Research Shows You Can Worry Yourself Into Dementia and Even Alzheimer's

How to Take Responsibility & Stop Blaming Others (Even if Others are to Blame)


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