Optimism is important to our physical and mental health, but what if it doesn’t come naturally? Dr. Robin Witmer-Kline, PhD, LPC at Keystone Behavioral Health and keynote speaker at the upcoming "Eat Sleep Run Grow" event, shares what to do to be more optimistic.
Some people are born with personality traits that lean more toward happiness and optimism, but the good news is, if it doesn’t come naturally, it can be learned. Optimism also must be practiced. When someone practices anything over and over again, they become an expert at it. It’s important to try, since pessimism actually can lower the immune system which then makes a person vulnerable to disease.
Learn to change
We all experience negative thoughts from time to time based on the effects of reality; however, focusing on what you can change and taking steps toward creating a better tomorrow are important for a feeling of self-control. However, there are some things that we cannot change, so we learn that we must change our attitude by trying to see it as an opportunity to grow. We ourselves become our own barriers or our own heroes.
When we have trouble adjusting to our situation or start thinking self-defeating thoughts, this is a sign of trouble and we may want to seek help. We must ask ourselves “Is this way of thinking productive or unproductive?” If it is unproductive than you are exerting energy into a void—this is a signal to start making changes.
Reframe Your Thoughts
When you catch yourself saying something negative, reframe it. Instead think—I may not be where I want to be, but at least I’m not where I used to be and every day is a chance to do something to make it better. So do a realistic inventory and then take steps to change something that is bothering you and then keep practicing it in your behaviors, and this changes your thoughts and then finally your emotions will catch up and come into alignment with the rest.
Practice, practice, practice. Optimism is on a large part a skill that must be practiced. Research has shown that anything that is practiced over and over again, will actually change brain pathways and create changes in the way we act, think and feel. This can be both negative or positive. So practice the positive and become addicted to that!
Courtesy: Public Opinion