I’m often criticized for being a ‘Suzy Sunshine’ and having a very rosy view. I am a glass half-full, forever optimist, bright-side, person. Through and through, it’s something that’s just a part of my fabric. It’s a lean that I’ve chosen to embrace instead of stifle. Despite feeling like stifling it would make me fit-in quite a bit more.
Positivity, and happiness are not the same thing. I’m not an always happy person, who is never down/sad/lonesome. I feel (feeeeeeel) the full spectrum of emotions, often in the span of an hour. As a HSP (highly sensitive person, and read the book if you haven’t!) I feel the feeling, and get hurt easily. However, my optimism always.wins.out.
As a caveat I also want to emphasize that the full spectrum of feelings are important, valid, and can take a long time to process. Being an optimist, and encouraging optimism in your family/relationships/self doesn’t mean squashing sadness, anger, low feelings. It is not a cult of positivity, but rather a lean towards the belief that good will eventually come. It means having an underlying belief that hardships will, eventually, pass. And you’ll be there. Still you.
- Remember the big picture. I talk about this all the time with my two closest people (Charlie and my Mom). I am a Big Picture Person. I see the long-game, the years not the hours, and that image is what dictates my decisions. If you pull your view out to bird-eye it’s easier to be an optimist when you look at the total curve or trajectory, not just the awful day. A way that I often remember this is by thinking about how children grow. We want them to ‘follow the growth curve’ an upward trajectory. That doesn’t mean that they follow it perfectly, or grow consistently in the same way, it means that on the whole; Growth. I apply that to my everyday life, knowing that bumps/fails/stalls are a part of life, but if I can maintain a pulled-back view of The Whole, it’s much more optimistic and calming.
- Try it out. This is obvious, but important. Is your default negative? Is your self talk negative? Relationship talk? Parenting talk? If you lean towards negative it can be near herculean to take steps OUT. But? It can work. Self talk is proven again and again to be the biggest self-fulfilling prophecy reality. So? Try optimism out. In a VERY fake-it-till-you-make-it kinda jam. Does it feel dumb? yah. Does it seem like it won’t work? sure. Could it work? Yup. Maybe? Better than feeling awful? YES.
- Write about it. We’ve seen endlessly the calls for gratitude lists/journals and the reason it’s everywhere? Is because it works for a LOT of different people of different learning styles. Wether you are doodling your thanksfuls, writing them out, typing then into a blog post or IG, starting your day with it, or ending with it. Reframing your brain to just start to notice those spaces in your day is a nice way to begin to create some new brain connections.
- Thought Swap It; It’s similar to how I rely on ‘thought swaps’ with negative self image. I do the same for optimism/positivity. For example; This traffic is awful. We’re going to be late. —–> I have unexpected time to chat with my kids, ask them about their highlights and lows. OR I have a moment to download a new podcast, and let this unexpected time be self care.
- BONUS TIP: Music. Listening to up-beat music, letting myself let go of what is happening to make me feel all the WHAT in the moment, it helps. We shake it off, turn it up, and dance for those 4 minutes. It nearly always brings on smiles, and doesn’t EVERY hurt the situation. Adding levity to heavy days is a good way to balance the feelings load. Also, it gives me space to feel what I’m feeling, while keeping an undercurrent of optimism, even if what I’m feeling in the moment is sadness.
Also, obviously. Give ‘Grin Like A Fool’ a try. It’ll work. Or it won’t, but then you’ll be laughing at yourself… so, it will work.