You’re Counting on your Positivity to Bring You Through? 5 Crucial Actions to Take Instead
Hello, people. Welcome to the REH Real Estate Youtube channel. Do you tend to see the positive in difficult situations, or do you always instinctively focus on the negative?
The amount of optimism or pessimism you have is also largely influenced by your experiences. Most people are either born optimistic or pessimistic, or otherwise, learn to adapt and react to their surrounding environment as a result of the experiences they have. If you want more of this content, subscribe to the REH Real Estate Youtube channel and hit the notification bell.
“From my experience, optimism is both a personality trait and a product of our environment,” according to Karol Ward, LCSW, a licensed psychotherapist. “From an early age, babies and children pick up the emotional vibes in their homes. If the atmosphere is relaxed and loving, children blossom even if they innately have a tendency towards anxiety. But if the home environment is tense and filled with dysfunction, optimism is one of the first things to go. It’s hard to be emotionally open and hopeful when that is not being modeled for you by your caretakers.”
However, if you’re someone who tends to focus on the negative, then your childhood doesn’t completely determine your mindset.
Studies suggest that optimism can be somewhat inherited and other factors may also play a role, like socioeconomic status. Although there is a lot of room for optimism to develop as adults, certain people might still struggle with positive thinking.
One useful way to increase optimism is through work and giving. According to Professor Leah Weiss from Stanford, “Some people are optimistic by nature, but many of us learn optimism as well. Anyone can learn to be optimistic — the trick is to find purpose in work and life. When we work with purpose or live with purpose, we feel more fulfilled and better equipped to see the glass ‘half full.’”
It is said that people can only be happy if they are also optimistic. However, optimism and happiness aren’t the same thing. The truth is, optimists usually think they have to see the positive in every situation. But experts say that’s not true either.
“Positive thinking doesn’t mean that you ignore life’s stressors. You just approach hardship in a more productive way,” said Kimberly Hershenson, LMSW. “Constructing an optimistic vision of life allows one to have a full interpersonal world in spite of unfortunate circumstances … [it] reduces feelings of sadness/depression and anxiety, increases your lifespan, fosters stronger relationships with others and provides coping skills during times of hardship. Being optimistic allows you to handle stressful situations better, which reduces the harmful health effects of stress on your body.”
Those who see the good in life have better physical health, earn more money and have healthier relationships. Optimism has been linked to better cardiovascular health, a stronger immune system and better mental well-being.
Experts claim that the difference between optimists and pessimists is not in their level of happiness, but in how they cope.
“Optimism is a mindset that enables people to view the world, other people and events in the most favorable, positive light possible. Some people describe this as the ‘half glass full’ mentality,” according to Dr. Aparna Iyer, psychiatrist and assistant professor at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. “Optimists do acknowledge negative events, but they are more likely to avoid blaming themselves for the bad outcome, inclined to view the situation as a temporary one and likely to expect further positive events in the future.”
Your Brain on Optimism
When we process a situation, the brain produces an action. There are reactions that come from states like anxiety and anger, as well as reactions to more neutral situations.
Research has found that when you’re happy, your left brain is more active. When you’re angry, or happy about something, your right hemisphere is more active.
“Just about anyone can be classified by their brain wave patterns as one or the other type,” said Dr. Davidson, of the University of Wisconsin, who has conducted numerous studies about the link between activity in the frontal lobes and emotions. He explains that only 15 percent of people do not possess an inclination toward one personality type or another.
Another one of his studies published in The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology confirmed that these brain pattern activities are strong predictors of how we will react to certain situations. Volunteers with left-side activity had a much stronger positive feeling, while those with more right-side brain activity had a stronger negative response.
Being in a good mood makes your brain lean more towards the left side, and when you’re in an unpleasant mood, it leans more towards the right.
Learning new skills such as mindfulness meditation and neuro linguistic programming can change thoughts about your brain and make you more creative. The good news: By consciously altering your thought processes, you can literally rewire yourself.
Davidson designed an experiment to see if it was possible to shift the activity of those who have a tendency towards right-brain activity. He planned to teach mindfulness skills to workers in high-stress jobs who on average tip toward the left and are more emotional. The findings were promising: after two months of training, their emotions shifted to the left, which led them to feel less anxious and more energized.
Yes, in a study where subjects were placed in high-stress situations, they were able to change their memory and recognition of the area in which they were.
The Tangible Health Benefits of Looking on the Bright Side
Is making the effort to train your brain to be more optimistic worth it? Science says yes. Research shows that the sunny worldview has some very real benefits for your health and productivity.
The study from Clinical Psychology Review found that optimism has a close connection to resilience. It has been shown to create physical and mental resilience for people who have gone through extraordinarily traumatic or medical situations.
Attend to your physical health by taking steps such as eating right and getting plenty of rest, have a healthier heart with an optimistic outlook that revolves around the idea of living life to the fullest, earn more money, and have happier relationships.
With the many benefits of optimism on health, it’s not surprising that research has also shown that optimism can lengthen your lifespan.
A study by the Harvard School of Public Health found that the women who were the most optimistic about their health were 30-percent less likely to die from any of the serious illnesses during a 8-year period, including cancer, heart disease and stroke.
Looking for a way to change your life? Experts have agreed that optimism can be taught and can lead to positive effects.
Optimism can be altered with relatively uncomplicated and low-cost interventions — even something as simple as having people write down and think about the best possible outcomes for various areas of their lives, such as careers or friendships. Harvard University researchers have found that encouraging use of these interventions could be an innovative way to enhance health in the future.
Optimism can definitely be a learned trait, believes Iyer. She says that optimism is not inevitable because there are many ways to learn a more optimistic outlook.
“For my clients who have historically tended to be pessimistic, they habitually view things as negative. I will ask them to challenge themselves to always consider that there may be another way of looking at things,” according to Iyer. Experts refer to the tactic as “positive reframing.”
“For example, if a client expresses that an entire day was ruined because it was dark or rainy outside, I would challenge him to focus on what may have been gained during that time. Often, he will reply that he did end up spending time indoors relaxing, reading or cuddling up to somebody he loves. Instead of looking at events in the most negative possible light, I encourage clients to make an active effort to ‘try on’ positive lenses as much as possible. After a while, this will become effortless, a more automatic and optimistic frame of mind.”
As with practice, consciously utilizing ‘positive framing’ can both effect change and shift your viewpoint in the short term. In psychology, the frontal cortex is more reflective of thought and emotion processing, while the parietal lobe is devoted to unconscious decision making. By altering our response to negative situations, we are also training our brains differently.
Take Note of the People Surrounding You
It’s clear that negativity is contagious. These people have worn us down and drain our energy when they get a little too much of our time.
When it comes to feelings and emotions, social networks are just like any other crowd. One person’s emotion can spread and benefit the whole network in similar fashion as disease spreads. Christakis has researched this sociology extensively and found that there may be certain circumstances that make a person happy, who in turn makes those around them happy too.
Having a supportive family member or friend who lives close by increases the probability that you will be happy as well.
“Start noticing who you spend time with on a daily basis. If you start connecting to people who are optimistic and grounded in life, you will start to be affected by their positive energy,” according to Ward. “The same goes for the time you spend with pessimistic people. The more you spend time with negativity, the more negative you are bound to feel.”
Turn Off the News
Five minutes of the morning news can quickly ruin your mood.
“The news and current state of media and politics can make it very hard for people to be optimistic. The reality is that the moment you turn on the news or read the paper, you are likely to be barraged with negativity and a bleak outlook on the world,” according to Iyer. “This, however, is an imbalanced view on the world, so I suggest that people try to limit their consumption of the news. I typically recommend allowing yourself just enough time to learn the news, after which I suggest that you turn off the media and instead spend time doing activities that help maintain your health and a positive outlook. If you feel a need to process the current state of political or world affairs, you may want to consider having a healthy discussion about it with a friend or family member; this still allows you to absorb the information but can also offer you a good level of discourse and balanced views on the news.”
Write in a Journal for a Few Minutes Each Day
Even when stressful life circumstances make it difficult to be grateful, having an optimistic outlook can still help. Gratitude is defined as a mental state that appreciates what is valuable and meaningful to ourselves.
A time-efficient way to ease into this practice is by journaling, a popular technique for cultivating gratitude. Each day, you can spend just 5 minutes journaling about what you’re grateful for.
Recent findings show gratitude journals can be a great way to increase your optimism. In one study, individuals who kept a daily gratitude journal were 2.5 times less likely to feel hopeless than those who didn’t, and 2 times more likely to experience elevation in mood.
In one study, writing in a gratitude journal was linked to feelings of optimism. In another study, people who performed acts of kindness reported feeling more optimistic.
Writing about your feelings of gratitude comes with amazing physical benefits, such as better sleep, improved heart health, and less depression.
Before writing in your journal, it’s important to start acknowledging your accomplishments. For example, if you have a new job or are considering pursuing a degree, jot down what you’ve done in the past that has helped build up to this moment or that you are proud of. This will help to create a sense of self-esteem and boost confidence for you. Many people already know this but not everyone takes the time to do so – which can be highly beneficial.
Recognize What You Can — and Cannot — Control
Hershenson notes that uncertainty can be difficult for some people but that a positive outlook can lead people to adapt and utilize the silver lining of whatever situation they are in. It is not necessary to have control over all circumstances, and being aware of the difficulty on this front is important to maintain a positive outlook.
Mindfulness can help you combat the tendency to ruminate over daily stressors, which is a breeding ground for negativity.
“We often ruminate endlessly without really focusing on the task at hand,” according to Weiss. “If you can learn to be in the present space (while allowing other thoughts to enter your brain but then pushing them gently away) without judgment or thought about past or future, you will find that there’s less room for pessimism.”
Don’t Forget to Recognize the Negative
The tone of this paragraph can be described as optimistic. While staying positive is important for our mental health, we must not ignore or ignore the negative aspects of life.
“Optimism can be detrimental if it keeps you locked into fantasy and you are in denial about your current reality. You may be optimistic about finding a more lucrative job or loving relationship, but if you do not address the issues that are keeping you from those goals, you will not be able to create what you want,” according to Ward. “A combination of optimism and realistic thinking help people navigate through life. Realistic thinking does not mean never seeing the bright side of life; not at all. It is simply a way of supporting your optimism with the action steps so that you can create a positive future as opposed to being stuck in fantasy.”
Life is easier and generally more enjoyable when you’re an optimist. According to research, optimistic people enjoy many health and lifestyle benefits, including greater achievement, greater health, a sense of persistence toward goals, greater emotional health, increased longevity, and lower reactivity to stress. Because of this, optimistic people tend to be happier overall. Optimism is measured by your explanatory style or how you define events.
Analyze Your Thoughts, Giving Yourself Credit
Stop reflecting on your thoughts and actions when you have a great moment. Remember the strengths you possess and how they contribute to make the great moments happen. For example, don’t just think of how prepared you were, but also think of your intelligence and dedication.
Think of How Your Strengths Can Bring Other Good Things
Imagine the ways that this good event in your life will affect other areas of your life. As well as how your strengths will cause other positive events in your life. For example, what other good things can come from your intelligence, dedication, and ability to effectively prepare for tasks?
Minimize the Negative, When It’s Realistic to Do So
When negative things happen, consider the factors that led to this. If you do poorly on an exam, for example, had you been busy in the previous week and slept poorly? Consider other contributing factors to your failure. This is not necessarily a reflection of personal weakness.
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