Optimism (from Dictionary.com) is defined as
- a disposition or tendency to look on the more favorable side of events or conditions and to expect the most favorable outcome.
- the belief that good ultimately predominates over evil in the world.
- the belief that goodness pervades reality.
- the doctrine that the existing world is the best of all possible worlds.
– Synonyms: confidence, hopefulness, cheerfulness.
The physical reality of our brain’s ability to remold itself is – as recognized by a majority number of experts – a phenomenon that makes human beings, well, special creatures. We inhabit the abilities to adapt; we learn, we improvise, and ultimately evolve into better people; and, eventually, a better race.
The majority of scientists (particularly neuroscientists and neuropsychologists) realize the almost superhuman function of neuroplasticity. ‘Neuroplasticity’ is simply an elaborate word for describing a human’s ability to advance their brain functions – by development and evolution of neural networks – through experiences and environments that stimulate this advantageous physiological mechanism.
In other words, all people possess the ability to reshape their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. Is this process immediate and easy? No; retraining a brain entrenched in its habits is an intricate process that requires a “baby step” approach. Nonetheless, this transformation is possible to those that possess the willpower and determination to make such a transformation.
In this article, we focus on specific ways to retrain and strengthen our gray matter to convey a more optimistic outlook on the world around us. While such an alteration may not be easy, it will pay off in ways that we cannot begin to conceive possibly.
Optimism is a state of mind that opens up a whole new world of possibilities. A brain optimistic at its core manifests into confidence, hope, positivity, and resilience. With an optimistic mindset, we can assuredly achieve what we’ve set out to do, despite of any self-imposed limitations.
Without further delay, we present a few ways of retraining your brain to autonomically default to an optimistic attitude.
How to Train Your Brain to Be More Optimistic
1. Make mindfulness a daily practice
Mindfulness can be accurately defined as “a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations (as) a therapeutic technique.”
As humans, we possess a vast amount of potential; most of which is achieved by being gifted with an ability to think critically. “Minding your mind” is a phrase often used within psychology (especially meditative) circles. All too often, our brain is set on “autopilot,” firing signals that aren’t well-received by our rational and emotional selves.
To “be mindful” is a complex topic that’s been written about for centuries. Ultimately, this perceivably convoluted practice comes down to one thing: accepting our thoughts nonjudgmentally and looking forward.
2. Give praise to someone deserving
If we think hard (maybe not so hard), we know of someone that is or has been unappreciated for whatever reason. This second tip is important because it provides a sense of validity and worthiness for the worthy recipient.
Thank someone for their efforts; no matter if its family or co-workers. Send a quick email to someone that has gone “above and beyond” in some way – no matter how big or small.
Send a quick email to someone that has influenced you; someone that’s made you better. Demonstrate that you notice their sacrifices, and are more than willing to acknowledge their benevolent efforts.
3. Doing something nice for someone, every day
Regardless of the situation that we may find ourselves in, doing something positive for any person can reap many rewards – both for ourselves and the recipient.
Even small acts of kindness – smiling, tipping, donating – can shift our mindset from negative to positive. Of course, in any scenario, it’s great to give with a mindset of gratitude; but we may just experience some sense of dramatic “shift” in our mindset and outlook – one that leaves us with a demonstrably positive disposition.
If one day you find yourself feeling “down in the dumps,” give something, anything, – money, time, or attention, to someone who may just need the gift of your humanity.
4. Search for positives – and write them down
The willingness to search for and recognize the gifts bestowed upon us is a powerful anecdote to a negative state of mind. In a society that regularly shows people that are supposedly better off than ourselves, it is tempting to fall into the trap of victimhood.
Do not allow this false perception to materialize in any way, shape, or form.
A beneficial practice is, at the end of each day, to jot down a couple of things that you’re grateful for. The context doesn’t matter much. It could be a compliment received at work, watching a beautiful sunrise, or experiencing an epitome that impresses your luck. Regardless, we all have something to be grateful.
Remind yourselves of this thankful disposition by writing them down, or even memorizing them. If you’re alive and breathing, there’s hope – and when there’s hope, there’s optimism.
Don’t ever, ever forget this fact.