My friend, wherever you are, and whatever you are doing, I hope that this finds you well and in good spirits. If you've ever listened to my podcasts, you know that I'm all about your psychology, and particularly interested in helping you to create an extraordinary mindset that will help you to live an extraordinary life and overcome all of the challenges and disappointments that will certainly come your way, with style, honor, and grace.
By now you also know that I'm all about Positive Psychology... Positive Psychology being the study of success, of happiness, of achievement, of how to live an awesome and meaningful life. One of the most important parts of Positive Psychology is the understanding that you can grow, cultivate, and nurture an extraordinary mindset, helpful habits, and awesome behaviors. So regardless of whether you feel like you have an inclination, or a disposition (and this is a very important word), or perhaps feel that your brain seems to notice all the problems and bad things that are happening or that can happen in the world around you, Positive Psychology, and Growth Mindset psychology tell us something else...
We can become aware of our challenges, and learn to teach our brain to focus differently, and our bodies to do something better... remember that your brain and body can and will learn anything that you consistently ask them to learn, whether it's driving a car, painting, drawing, playing a sport, doing mathematics, run marathons, public speaking, and yes... you can train, nurture, help, and teach your brain to become more optimistic.
The question is why would you want to become optimistic. Are there specific benefits for you to become more optimistic? Man, I thought you would never ask... well the easy answer to that question is absolutely and unequivocally YES! Here are some of the benefits:
- You will literally live 6 to 8 years longer
- You will feel happier more of the time
- You will become more emotionally resilient and gritty
- You will bounce back from setbacks, rejection, a bad score on a test, even from tragic events quicker and better
- You will perform better in school, in sports, and in relationships
- You will be sick less and recover from illness quicker
- You will be more successful at work
- You will connect with people more easily, because people like being around optimistic people
- You will feel more motivated and work harder, and as a result succeed more often
Basically, optimists see themselves and life differently in these 3 different ways:
- Optimists believe they are in control... or at least that they can impact and influence themselves and circumstances around them. In other words, Optimists believe that they can learn, improve, and make things better for themselves and others. Whereas Pessimists feel as though they are ‘doomed.' Things are out of their control, there's nothing they can do, and things aren't going to change... in fact they're going to get worse. It's easy to see why pessimists feel unmotivated and experience more anxious and sad feelings.
- Optimists don't personalize their faults or mistakes. When they fail a class, or get rejected, they tell themselves "It's normal to get rejected, not everyone is going to like me or going to want to be my friend... I'll try to connect and make friends elsewhere." If they fail biology optimists can say "That was really hard for me, next year i'll have to work a little harder and ask for help a little earlier, and I'm sure I can get a better score." Pessimists would say: "Getting rejected is the worse, it's so embarrassing. I'm never going to get a bf or gf, or make the team, or make friends... I'm not a likeable person... I'm never going to be good at Biology, or Language Arts."
- Optimists believe that things can change... that they are not chronic or permanent. If they have a bad game, they believe that they can improve and have a better game next time. If they make a mistake, they believe that they can fix it, and improve their situations. They believe that next year, next summer, next job, next time can be better. Pessimists on the other hand, believe that things are only going to get worse, that math is stupid, that the coach is dumb, that all girls are boring, that all boys are rude, and that things aren't going to change.
Seeing yourself and events differently is absolutely HUGE! So how can you flex and exercise those Optimism muscles, and feel happier, more motivated, less upset, and in turn succeed more often? Well, here are 3 steps that I guarantee will help you:
- Pay attention and begin to notice the Pessimistic thoughts that happen inside your brain. To help you do this, imagine a really ugly troll... with green purplish skin, maybe they're wearing some dirty overalls, and they are just unpleasant, and their main goal is to make your life miserable, to cause you fear, and cause you to doubt yourself... imagine that these thoughts are originating with this troll, and whenever you hear yourself saying things like "I'm never going to make it; or I'm terrible at this; or I hate school; or I just suck at sports; or people are just the worse!" just imagine that that's the troll, trying to get you to just hate your life, to make you miserable, and to just suck the joy out of everything.
- Challenge the grumpy, grouchy, and obnoxious troll with some reasonable and intelligent ideas like "Well, just because I didn't make it this time, doesn't mean I won't in the future, i'll keep trying if it's important for me; or School was really hard this year, next year i'll try to be more involved, a little friendlier, and working a little harder; or I did not do very good at sports this year, this year I'm really going to commit my time and focus, and instead of getting angry and bitter, I'm going to get better; or sometimes people can be selfish, hurtful, and mean, but not everyone is this way. I guess I'll keep looking for people that are fun, nicer, and adventurous... in fact, I'll work on becoming a little more that way myself." I hope you can see the difference between the two different types of thinking. One is optimistic, hopeful, and powerful... the other is pessimistic, hopeless, and powerless. My friend, time to challenge that Troll and get your life back!
- Get to work and keep at it. Remember that our brains can have a negative bias. That means that your brain can remember negative events more easily, and notice negative events in the present or future easily. So training your brain to become a bit more open to optimism, to positive outcomes, to you being able to do something about your life, instead of just being a little pawn on a chessboard, will help you to develop this awesome psychology and perspective that I guarantee will help to make you more successful, happier, more motivated, and better with the people around you.
Well, what do you think? Are you more naturally optimistic, or pessimistic? Regardless of whatever you think you are, you now know a deeper truth... you can learn and practice optimism, and become better at it. Let's find that troll, learn to hear it, and then take some steps to challenge some of the nonsense and hopeless grossness that it's spewing out at you. Thanks for being here, and I'll see you soon.