The Upside of Optimism
Perhaps you’ve heard the saying “look on the bright side of life.” But if you’ve ever been a tricky situation, say, sitting in traffic, waiting a long line at the grocery store, or worse, the loss of a job or the death of a loved one, you know that finding a silver lining can be challenging.
While it may be our first reaction to get down and feel sad, evidence suggests that taking an optimistic view is important for coping and recovery.
In short, optimism provides healthy experience in body, mind, and spirit. Rather than being a simplistic “Pollyanna with rose-colored glasses” approach to life, optimism is realizing that things will have the significance we give to them, and then choosing the most positive, constructive meaning.
Some very good news to emerge from scientific studies recently is that optimism can be learned. Even people firmly entrenched in a pessimistic mode can consciously shift into a happier, healthier frame of mind. Here are a few exercises proven to raise your joy level:
- Breathe! Any time we feel stressed, angry, or overwhelmed, the first thing we unconsciously do is start shallow breathing. A brain starved for oxygen negatively impacts body, mind, and spirit. The minute you realize you’re not breathing normally, just stop, and take several deep breaths. With restored clarity, you can more realistically observe the situation and choose the most appropriate positive resolution.
- Start asking yourself at least one time daily, “How can it get any better than this?” It’s an effective way to reverse our culture’s preoccupation with the question, “What else can go wrong?” While it might seem awkward at first, you’ll soon start to develop a habit of pondering what the next good thing in your day will be – and it will begin to appear.
- Healthy foods = a happy and healthy mind. When your body is struggling to digest processed foods and animal products, your mind can get as sluggish as your intestinal tract. Choose live, raw, organic vegetables and fruits as much as possible, and see how your happiness level immediately begins to rise.
- Realize that choosing to give a positive meaning to things changes your body chemistry for the good. A negative mental state can potentially create more acidity in the body than poor food choices.
- Train your brain to think optimistically. Psychologist Marty Seligman, one of the architects of the field of Positive Psychology, suggests that before we fall asleep, we take a moment to review the three most wonderful things that happened to us that day. Besides putting us in a positive frame of mind that sets us up for a night of peaceful, restorative sleep, the practice subtly rewires our brain. When we arise, we’re immediately starting to anticipate the first of the three most positive things we will experience that day. Of course, negative things will still unfold – but now, instead of endlessly ruminating over them, we’ll acknowledge them, and then refocus on seeking out the positive. Doing this exercise for just one week results in measurably raising your level of optimism for a full six months.
Learn more about the power of optimism at the Optimum Health Institute (OHI). Your body, mind and spirit will be happy with a week, or two, or ideally three, at the OHI holistic health missions. Our caring team will give you the tools, encouragement and inspiration needed to improve your outlook on life, quiet your mind and rejuvenate your spirit while you are surrounded in serene beauty. Call OHI at (800) 588-0809 or visit www.OptimumHealth.org today for more information.