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How to Be Optimistic

By Pamela Shenk, CHt

Thanks to our ancestors and the miracle of evolution, the human brain has developed into a highly tuned radar that can sense the negativity in any situation. But fortunately, you can retrain your brain to focus on the positive in your life and kick pessimism to the curb.


We all have days that we feel a little more upbeat than other days. How much more upbeat? Well, that depends on the circumstances. Sometimes the smallest things can send our mood plummeting: like a criticism from our boss or an insensitive remark from a coworker or friend. Yet other times, a compliment from a friend about our weight loss can have us soaring in the clouds. But, we do have the power to change our mood. Here’s how:


Have you noticed that there are some people who, no matter what, truck through life’s muck and always come out clean and smiling? These are the people who have a POSITIVE attitude about life. If you have a plan to keep daily irritations from getting to you, then you have a better chance of keeping your mood in check when your boss makes a criticism or your coworker or friend says something insensitive. The people who can make it through hard times are the ones who can put things in perspective.


You may not be able to change your body’s physiological response to stress. Because when you’re really stressed your muscles tighten, you take shorter breaths, your smile disappears and your shoulders slumped over. This happens naturally. It’s a safety mechanism that evolution has developed to keep us out of danger. But the thing is…we can change how we react to stress. One of the things that distinguishes people with a positive outlook from others is how “mentally buoyant” they are. In other words, when adversity strikes, a positive outlook can help you make it through hard times


Don’t forget—Attitude in life is everything. When you catch yourself slipping into an emotional slump, instantly change your posture, put on a big smile and breathe. Do you think Thomas Edison told himself 700 times that he was a failure before inventing the light bulb? No, he discovered 700 ways it wouldn’t work. But he forged ahead.


It is so important to be aware of our thoughts. Stress can cause all kinds of illness. It isn’t the stress we have to deal with; it’s how we handle our stress. When you feel totally stressed, what are you going to do? First, stand up straight, take a deep breath, smile and then go for a walk, a massage, acupuncture, hypnosis or just spend some quiet time looking at the stars; something that makes you feel good. Our thoughts will determine how we feel. I know, sounds too simple, but it works!


One last thing. Recently I read a study about daydreaming and was surprised to find out that daydreaming is actually good for you. It is your body’s way of relieving stress. If you daydream about fifteen minutes each day, it can take your mind off of the things that have been totally stressing you out.


As Henry Ford said, if you think you can or if you think you can’t…you’re right.


Live, Laugh, and Love.