“We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts, we make our world. ~ Buddha”
Whether you’re an optimist or pessimist ultimately comes down to the way you think about yourself. An optimist sees an opportunity in everything, while a pessimist sees situations that don’t go according to plan as failures. An optimist believes that he or she is responsible for his/her own happiness, while a pessimist often counts on others to bring happiness. An optimist expects good things to happen, while a pessimist expects bad things to happen.
Of course, bad things happen all the time to everyone, but optimists know that these are results of something outside themselves that they have no control over, and do not, therefore, take it personally. A pessimist, however, takes it personally and blames either another person or him/herself for somehow causing or deserving whatever has happened.
If you have a tendency to be ‘naturally negative’, there will be times when it feels impossible to be optimistic about anything, particularly something that’s affecting your life negatively. This doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a bad person; it could just be that you’ve had to deal with more than your fair share of unpleasant situations in life and you’ve got stuck in a rut of negative thought patterns.
“No pessimist ever discovered the secrets of the stars, or sailed to an uncharted land, or opened a new heaven to the human spirit. ~ Helen Keller”
The key to being an optimist when you have to work at it is simple: have a good support network of positive-minded friends and colleagues, and cut negative people from your life, as they will only hold you back. I don’t mean stop speaking to anyone who’s ever been negative; we all have ‘those days’ or situations that get us down. I’m speaking about those people who seem to thrive on being negative and don’t seem happy unless they’re complaining about something. They are what many refer to as psychic vampires, and you can recognise them by the drained feeling you’re left with every time you see or hear from them.
“You cannot expect to live a positive life if you hang with negative people. ~ Joel Osteen”
Life is too short to spend time with people who love to be miserable, and we all know that misery is contagious, as is joy – so, if you want to be happy and successful, clear the ‘people clutter’ of negativity from your life. If there are situations or people you can’t simply remove from your life, you can simply refuse to spend too much time with those people or in those situations. You can refuse to feel their negative effects on you. You can refuse to hear or focus on negative speech (selective hearing can be rather empowering). You can refuse to dwell on the fact that you cannot change the situation or person. Be happy with who you are and let your steadfastness in demanding joy out of life be your shield. Accept the situation for what it is instead of fighting against it – concentrate on what you can do instead of rallying against what you cannot do.
If you found Parts 1 and 2 of this article interesting and/or useful, watch out for Think Positive, Part 3: Change Your Life, which will be published on 24 June.