Everyone wants to be an optimist, but it’s not always easy when life gets you down. While some folks a naturally sunny disposition, most people have to work to maintain an optimistic viewpoint. It’s worth the work, however, since optimists enjoy better health and even do better in their careers. In fact, a study even found banks were more likely to approve the loans of optimistic entrepreneurs.
Seeing the silver lining instead of the dark cloud can not only make you happier, it can also make you more successful. Here are six secrets of optimists to help you look on the bright side, even when stuck in a traffic jam or forced to work on a weekend:
Optimists are passionate about their work. Do you need to drag yourself to work every morning? Optimists don’t, because they spring out of bed excited to face the day. This is because optimists have chosen to pursue jobs and careers for which they have real, genuine passion.
This probably explains why so many entrepreneurs tend to be of the optimistic persuasion. A Gallup study found 71 percent of entrepreneurs felt they had learned something interesting the day before, and 89 percent had enjoyed their previous workday. If you can’t remember the last time you enjoyed your day in the office, it might be time to start looking for greener pastures. For optimists, work is more than just an opportunity for a paycheck. It’s also an opportunity to learn, grow, and do what you love.
Optimists focus on the good…even though it’s far easier to focus on the bad. According to Florida State University professor Roy F. Baumeister’s succinctly titled article, “Bad Is Stronger Than Good,” it’s much easier to focus on the rainy days than the sunny ones. In the paper, Baumeister states people are generally more upset about losing $50 than they are happy to gain $50.
Negative events tend to stick in the brain more easily than positive developments, and we all have a tendency to dwell on the negative. When you start to get cranky or stressed, think about something good from your day to balance out the negative emotions. Optimists make a choice to focus on the good in their life instead of dwelling on the bad.
Optimists practice mindfulness. It’s easy to get stressed and overwhelmed when you’re always on-the-go. Especially in today’s work reality when we’re reachable at all hours thanks to email, smartphones, and cloud computing.
You need to take some “you time” in order to get refocused and let go of negative emotions. Practicing mindfulness, stillness, or meditation certainly isn’t a new way to reorient your attitude. Jesuits have been adding these breaks to their day for about 500 years now.
Optimists dream big. Dreaming is believing — and if you reach for the stars, you actually will achieve better results.
As it turns out, there’s some scientific backing to being a pie-in-the-sky optimist. In 1997, researcher Gary McPherson studied child musicians, their goals, and their outcomes later in life. He found the child musicians who imagined themselves playing their instrument forever were more likely to have achieved their goal as a professional musician. So, while it takes more than just a blind belief to achieve success, a little dreaming doesn’t hurt.
Optimists journal. As we’ve mentioned, it’s all too easy to focus on the negative events in our lives and mentally skim over the positive. Journaling can help you focus on dispelling negative energy and focusing on upbeat emotions.
During a few quiet moments in your morning or before bed, write a list of positive moments in your day or goals you’re working to achieve. In a long-term study of journaling Catholic nuns, those with more positive content in their handwritten journals tended to live longer.
Optimists surround themselves with good vibes. If you surround yourself with supportive people and things you enjoy, you’ll improve your mood and your day. The next time your attention wanders and you find yourself looking at a picture of a piglet, don’t feel so bad about your lost productivity. Research has shown looking at pictures of baby animals actuallymakes you more productive.
The secret to optimism is that it doesn’t just happen — highly optimistic people have to work on maintaining their sunny attitudes. If you want to get ahead in your career, improve your relationships, and just plain enjoy your professional life, it’s time to give optimism a try. Highly optimistic people aren’t just happier, they’re also more successful.
How do you stay optimistic? Share in the comments!
Image Design by Weston Doty; Open Me
About Ilya Pozin:
Founder of Open Me and Ciplex. Columnist for Inc, Forbes & LinkedIn. Gadget lover, investor, mentor, husband, father, and ’30 Under 30′ entrepreneur. Follow Ilya below to stay up-to-date with his articles and updates!