A recent UK survey has revealed that 87% of people have a positive, optimistic outlook on life whilst only 13% tend towards pessimism. It's a heartening result, considering the long recent months of lockdowns and restrictions that we've been through.
Those who are downbeat often claim that they look at life in a more pragmatic and realistic way. They adopt an, 'if I expect the worst I'll never be disappointed if things don't work out' approach to life. But the problem with that mindset is that it causes us to notice what's uppermost in our thoughts. Consider if you'd decided to buy a red car. You'd immediately start to see the high number of red cars everywhere you went. When you're aware of something it's on your mind, you're attuned to it.
Being prepared for the worst means that you're alert to the slightest blip or hint that something's not going as hoped. But when you're positive and upbeat you'd probably not notice those signs or you'd simply breeze past, not allowing them to impact on your mood or plans.
Also, have you noticed how often people eventually reflect on their tough times with some degree of gratitude and appreciation? They might have been through a divorce, redundancy, even a health warning, which provided the catalyst for changes that mat well not have happened but for being forced upon them. It's not uncommon to hear of people giving thanks for the difficult times in their lives, once they've settled into their new situation.
But when there's no catalyst it's often tempting to opt for an easier life and stay where we are, even if we know we could do better, would prefer to be living a different life. The thought of initiating change and dealing with the consequences, as well as the prospect of things not working out can be enough to put any dreams on hold 'for now'.
I recall a client saying with absolute seriousness that nothing good ever happened to her. She'd become so habituated to her gloomy mindset that she couldn't entertain any other perception of life. A bit like the 'red car' outlook, she was missing out on the positives that were there; any smiles, compliments, everyday kindnesses had for her become invisible.
So, how can we learn to adopt a more positive, glass half full approach to life, where we look on the bright side with more regularity?
- Practising gratitude is an important first step, where we learn to count our blessings and appreciate the most basic of things that we perhaps have taken for granted. Waking up each day, having a roof over our heads, food in our cupboards, running water, heating and lighting are all things that a surprising number of people don't have. Looking on the bright side is about being thankful for what we do have, as well as adding to the list and focusing on our blessings.
- Good self-care improves mindset and outlook. When you look after yourself you feel better and are healthier. So, a good sleep routine, eating well, taking regular exercise, investing time, love and care in yourself reinforces an, 'I'm worth it' view of yourself and your role in life.
- Share with close family and friends if you're feeling a little glum or low of mood. People who care about you will care about understanding how you're feeling and want to help when you're down. Help them to help you by asking for what you need. Let them help, rather than shrug off any support that's offered.
- And doing things for others, maybe by volunteering, can help you to look on the bright side. Taking time to support others can be rewarding and often enables you to put your own worries and concerns into better perspective. There's definitely satisfaction to be had from doing good deeds.
- Be lively, energetic and stimulate those feelgood endorphins. Dancing and listening to music is a good mood enhancer. Likewise, time in nature for a run, walk or bike ride can really elevate your mood. You could share the time with someone special and invest in your relationship or enjoy a little quiet 'me time' on your own. Why not have a healthy meal cooking in the oven so that when you come back you're able to relax over a delicious dinner.
- Do things that you're good at, especially if you've been through a tough time and your ability to look on the bright side has taken a bit of a battering. Reminding yourself of your skills and talents is a good way to feel better about yourself and improve your confidence levels.
- Whether it be at work or at home it's important to spend time on a project or interest that you enjoy, doing something that gives you pleasure. Make time to invest in yourself, particularly if there have been lots of withdrawals of late and your reserves are much depleted.
Be gentle with yourself if you find yourself feeling a little flat or low of mood. Sometimes hormones can factor or you may have been going through a tough time and haven't the energy to look on the bright side for now. Be kind to yourself and remove yourself from your busy routine for a while, if you can.
Do you have the option to nurture yourself, recharge your batteries with a weekend away, a spa visit or even a leisurely bath and time with a good book? Find ways to cosset yourself and allow time for healing. Hopefully, you'll soon be feeling better and looking on the bright side with enthusiasm.
Susan Leigh, Altrincham, Cheshire, South Manchester counsellor, hypnotherapist, relationship counsellor, writer & media contributor offers help with relationship issues, stress management, assertiveness and confidence. She works with individual clients, couples and provides corporate workshops and support.
She's author of 3 books, 'Dealing with Stress, Managing its Impact', '101 Days of Inspiration #tipoftheday' and 'Dealing with Death, Coping with the Pain', all on Amazon & with easy to read sections, tips and ideas to help you feel more positive about your life.
To order a copy or for more information, help and free articles visit http://www.lifestyletherapy.net