How to Cultivate Optimism

3 steps to cast off negativity and become healthier and happier

With the tanked economy, deflated housing market and record unemployment, pessimism is much more prevalent these days than optimism. Unfortunately, pessimism breeds more pessimism. The downward spiral of negative thinking does not make it easy to adopt an optimistic viewpoint. This doesn't mean, however, that cultivating optimism is impossible. Learning how to think optimistically can, and should, be a practice that you adopt. Optimists, according to a study conducted at Duke University, work harder, save more money and lead healthier lives.

Step 1: Recognize your pessimism

In order to reverse a downward spiral of pessimistic thoughts, you must first become aware of them. It's impossible to move forward if you don’t acknowledge what you're facing. Your first task, then, in learning optimism is to take charge of your thoughts.

Jo Anne White, Ph.D., certified life, business and leadership coach, states that by moving your prominent negative thoughts to the back of your mind, you can stop focusing on the negative aspects of life and leave room for optimism.

Step 2: Affirm your optimism

Becoming an optimist is not always easy, but it can be done -- with some work. Repeat positive thoughts in your mind after having moved a negative thought away from the center of your consciousness. Positive repetitive thoughts, if practiced regularly, will soon become habitual, allowing optimism to become more and more natural.

Step 3: Choose your friends carefully

Like pessimism, optimism is contagious. By associating with other optimists, you are more likely to become optimistic yourself. Not only are conversations likely to be centered around positive topics, you will learn and adopt habits that lead to a positive outlook of your own. Besides, who wants to associate with people who depress them? This is a great example of a beneficial form of peer influence.

Who doesn’t want to lead a more successful and fulfilling life? Although your pessimism might seem strong and impenetrable, it is very possible for you to change your thoughts. Consistency is a key factor. The more often we think positive thoughts, the easier they will come to us. Eventually, if we stick to this pattern, pessimism will become a thing of the past, leaving room for only our optimism. It is possible for anyone to take charge of their lives and start being more optimistic.

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