Let’s face it- we have not had the easiest 2.5 years and just as we get through the Covid-19 pandemic (knock on wood!) we are faced with other crises impacting us all over the world! It is relatively easy to only focus on what is going wrong: How our world leaders are letting us down, the state of our planet, the amount of people suffering from hunger, pain, loss, poverty and so on…  I am not here to tell you to ignore it or to turn a blind eye. I am here to tell you why it is also important to choose optimism!

What is optimism?

It is simply the choice to focus on what is good, positive, and wholesome and to see a life full of opportunities despite hardship, challenges, and difficulties.

Research confirms that optimism significantly influences your mental and physical well-being. Optimism promotes an individual’s mental flexibility and problem-solving capacity. Being mentally flexible means you are open to changing your perspective on situations you might have seen as negative or ‘bad’ in the past. Ask yourself instead: ‘What can I learn from this?’ or ‘What good has come from this?’ Being mentally flexible also means you can solve problems more easily. When faced with a problem, you may find it easier to find a solution and keep your spirits up at the same time!

Optimism isn’t a belief that things will automatically get better; it is a conviction that we can make things better.

Melinda Gates

How can I practice optimism on a daily basis?

Here are some practical tips to get you started:

  • An optimistic mindset doesn’t just magically appear. This mindset is also not just for a select lucky few. Everyone can use this tool to improve their mood. You will however need to train your brain to use an optimistic lens when looking at yourself, others, and the world. It is an intentional and active process you need to reinforce until it becomes a natural state of being. Hey Happy is here alongside you cheering you on all the way!
  • Practice gratitude: Before getting out of bed in the morning, list 3 things you are truly grateful for. (eg. a bed to help you have a good night’s rest; eyes to see and make meaning of your surroundings; a person you can trust and feel safe around being yourself.) Do the same before you go to sleep at night. Gratitude practices release a hormone called Dopamine, which is a feel-good hormone that boosts your mood. Thus gratitude practices = an increase in happiness!
  • Restrict the amount of time you spend reading or watching the news. It is sometimes hard to remain optimistic if you constantly expose yourself to only bad and alarming news.
  • Become mindful. Start to recognise when you think about a challenge or obstacle as a problem. Now add a bit of optimism and ask yourself ‘What opportunity is here for me to learn from?’

So let’s start throwing some optimistic sparkles on you today!

written by Megan Stapelberg, Counselling Psychologist