“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude,” Maya Angelou says.
What’s wrong with being a Pollyanna? Absolutely nothing, according to experts who agree that a positive attitude benefits everyone, especially as we get older.
The first step to changing your outlook is recognizing your thoughts as negative and replacing it with more constructive thoughts. You can choose to be happy. Yes, it’s a matter of choice. Studies have shown that putting a positive expression on your face can actually make you feel happier and more optimistic about the future. All the more reasons to smile and laugh more often. Try to focus on the good things in your live, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant. Be grateful for what you have instead of lamenting what you lack.
If you habitually expect the worst of people and situations as a pessimist, remember habits can be changed. Cultivating positive thoughts takes practice, but the following five tips will help you improve your state of mind.
- Let go of the notion that the world is against you or that you were born to live under a black cloud. This assumption simply isn’t based on reason or reality. The sooner you can attribute your pessimism to your own attitude instead of blaming the state of the world, the easier it’ll be to change your perspective.
- Create a “library of positive thoughts.” Spend at least a few moments every morning reading, watching, or listening to something inspirational or motivational. If you do this regularly, you’ll have those thoughts and feelings to help when things go wrong. Since the people around you also have a big impact on how you think, avoid negative people along with cynical books, movies, and music.
- Make someone smile for an instant pick me up. Do something nice for a family member, friend, or even a stranger. Let someone cut in front of you in line. Weed an elderly neighbor’s flower beds. Give someone a compliment. Buy a struggling single mom an anonymous gift of groceries.
- Keep learning about the world, people, and things outside yourself. Get into the ritual of looking forward to each day and pondering what new adventure will come your way.
- You don’t have to be a victim of your circumstances. Instead of dwelling on what is wrong in your life, start thinking about how you can make better decisions in the future, what you can learn from the experience, and ways you can use the situation to build character and strength.
Following even one of the above suggestions will bring more light into your life. If you’re in the habit of thinking negatively and expecting failure, disappointment, and problems, it’s time to change the way you think.