[success]Monday’s child is fair of face.
Tuesday’s child is full of grace.
Wednesday’s child is full of woe.
Thursday’s child has far to go.
Friday’s child is loving and giving.
Saturday’s child works hard for a living.[/success]
Does anyone remember this nursery rhyme?
What about Sunday you might ask. Oh yes.[success]And the child that is born on the Sabbath day is bonny and blithe and good and gay.[/success]
Well I was born on a Sunday which allowed me to lord it over my siblings. And you’d better believe that I did.
But lately I’ve been wondering if bonny and blithe and good and gay actually means being born an optimist, which to me means living life expecting the best. And then I wondered if optimism isn’t our natural state, and if so how can we reclaim it if we’ve turned into a pessimistic Penny.
Maybe right now current circumstances aren’t the best, maybe it feels as though everything is working against us…it’s a perpetual struggle or we’re just in that place of overwhelm. Can anything be done? Are you aggravated by something or someone and your response is…well let’s say less than positive or optimistic of good things showing up any time soon.
Cheerful Charlie me says yes, a hundred times, yes…or maybe that was Elizabeth Bennett when Mr. Darcy asked her to marry him. I confess I’ve been watching Pride and Prejudice for the umpteenth time. I love happy endings…and it doesn’t hurt that they validate my optimism.
I recently read that optimists who believe they can achieve success are in fact more able to do so plus they get fewer illnesses, have longer relationships are less likely to get depressed and as if that isn’t enough they live longer.
We already know that what we believe, we’ll receive.
So back to the question, if optimism isn’t your current default mode what is it that’ll make a difference?
If you lean more to the pessimistic side of life the first thing to do is to ask questions.
Do you believe nothing ever goes right, or this always happens to me, and basically you’re just a victim of what’s happened. It’s got nothing to do with cause and effect, we’re all just victims. So with this belief, yes, you probably are a victim…of catastrophic thinking.
None of this is true or real of course, it’s just an interpretation of events, through the lens of pessimism. So let’s turn it all around:
Something happened that we don’t like. What do we do? We begin to feel bad, we begin to feel unhappy, we begin to feel all manner of lousy things.
But we don’t have to feel any of them. Circumstances can’t make us feel anything. Only we do that. So how about a feeling intervention.
Check your feelings
Take a minute and determine what you’re really feeling.
Pause and choose a better feeling. Find something that feels good, even if it’s a memory, or something as simple as I have great friends, or I love feeling happy, anything that feels remotely good will do.
Stay focused on your feel good thought for a minute. Doesn’t matter if your old feeling resurfaces, just go back to the one you’re choosing. You’re in charge of your thinking, not your circumstances. You’re driving the bus.
Since the old adage, practice makes perfect is probably true, practicing this can turn a sense of doom and disaster into a better feeling of well being. Pretty soon, you’ll find it to be a more automatic response. It might not be an instant response, but after a minute or two, your habit of finding a happier feeling will win the day.
You’re more able to say, no thanks, to things that don’t feel so good and why wouldn’t you…you’re saving yourself from attracting more things that most definitely won’t be bringing a sense of well being any time soon.
We can all cultivate optimistic thinking and our optimism can sometimes be a lifeline for someone else.
Lo those many years ago when visiting my husband, Brian, in hospital I would sometimes sit outside his room whilst the nurse was making him more comfortable. On one occasion another patient came wandering by and sat down with me and we began chatting. I don’t even remember what we spoke of, but I do know it would have been about hope and celebrating life because they were the feelings I had.
The next day a woman introduced herself to me. She told me that her husband, who had the same form of cancer as Brian, had spent some time with me yesterday, and she didn’t know what I said to him, but she wanted to say thank you. Apparently whatever I said had lifted his spirits and he felt hopeful for the first time in many a month.
I was glad.
Later I learned that he had been discharged from the hospital and was in remission and I was even more glad.
There are always steps we can take to cultivate optimism if we would remember that there are actions we can take to change a situation, giving us a greater sense of power. There are specific reasons something happened, starting with our consciousness…thoughts and feelings.
We can face our pessimistic, negative self talk head on, by intervention as above and by not responding to our self talk as if it were true. All we need do is be aware of it, and treat it as though it were some miserable person who revelled in making us miserable too.
Hanging out with positive people is another good way to go.
Finding something to be grateful for…also useful.
Inspirational books, music, quotes…all great ways to top up our optimism levels.
Not forgetting being born on a Sunday seems to work just fine. Oh, we can’t fix that?
Never mind, focus on the real stuff and begin to reclaim your true self, your optimistic you. I know you can do it.
Encourage one another.
We’d love to hear from you in the comments below. Are you an optimist? How do you handle those pessimistic moments? Your thoughts might just be the words someone needed to hear today.
12 thoughts on “Cultivating Optimism”
I used to be quite a bad pessimist, but was able to change. It took a lot of effort. Like you said, I had to make an effort and stay tuned into my thoughts to make sure I was not being pessimistic. Now I’m much more positive, but I still slip back into it occasionally. I’m a work in progress, but aren’t we all?
Lovelyn, that’s wonderful. Good for you. Congrats. And yes, we’re all a work in progress…only this morning I had to release on wanting to control a situation, ‘cos as we all know, we can’t want and have at the same time. Sigh. Now I’m off to keep my focus on having. 🙂
There is so much I could relate to in your post Elle. And for me you hit the nail on the head in your advice not to respond to negatives as if they were true. It took me a long time to realise that I had internalised so many untruths about myself as a child. Now I can refuse to accept the lies and listen only to what will benefit me.
Great post. Thank you 🙂
Carolyn, we are a funny bunch of humans I know…it’s pretty fantastic that you don’t even listen to anything other than what is beneficial…now that’s a great state of consciousness. 🙂
Super duper post! I’m passing this along to a perpetually pessimistic friend who at age 60 still just doesn’t seem to get it. What a shame and a waste. But we know there’s always a way to start anew. I love this quote: “Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.” Maria Robinson
Harriet, thanks for your kind words and the wonderful quote. I love that. Let’s both imagine your friend looking for the sunny side of life, cos we both know if she looks, she’ll find it. With a friend like you to encourage her, she’s one lucky lady. 🙂
Such an easy tip to implement! I love it. Thanks for helping us reframe our thoughts and turn them around to be more positive — what we REALLY want anyway! 🙂
Victor, you’re so right…it is what we really want…I so appreciate you stopping by. 🙂
Imagine my disappointment when I found out I was born on a Wednesday! Maybe I had to come from behind, but I am definitely in Sunday’s club now!
Yes you are Galen…it’s obvious in everything you write…you always bring a smile to my heart. 🙂
Cultivation makes anything grow better. Elle, your are indeed the “cultivator” of better lives for all who read you. I know I am a better man because of your words of wisdom. Thank you.
Brian, you are so sweet and not to be part of a mutual fan-club. Oh, what the heck, why not. You are so supportive of your clients as you do your astrological readings for them. Discovering one’s life purpose is huge, and I know that many have done just that, because of you. 🙂