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The Journey from Pessimism to Optimism


"Twixt Optmist and Pessimist, the difference is drole.  The Optimist sees the doghnut, the Pessimist the hole."  ~  Unknown

I like to think of myself as a glass half-full person, but I’m keenly aware that to many I’d be considered an “annoyingly positive person”.  I’m ok with this, because one of the many lessons I’ve learned over the last few years is that other people’s opinion of me actually has nothing to do with me at all.  But I do find it ironically amusing all the same – because it’s only a few short years since I leaned, most definitely, in the pessimistic direction.

While I realize that there are many people out there who are (seemingly) natural born optimists, I am not one of them.  My optimism is strictly of the acquired variety.  The truth is I grew up a worrier and a moaner.  I stared at shut doors and forgot to look out the open windows.  My friends affectionately referred to me as a whinger!  And one flatmate declared he was scared of me first thing in the morning.  (Even today I don’t schedule appointments before 10am)

But over the last few years I’ve been on an amazing journey resulting in a whole new perspective on life.

Instead of struggling with life’s challenges I now accept them, enquire as to what they might be here to teach me, and keep an eye out for the opportunity for growth and development that might be contained therein.  As a result everything in life feels easier, I experience more joy in the little things, and I bounce back quickly when things get tough.

How did I manage this amazing transition?  Well it started with some curiosity, followed closely by a decision.  While trying to figure out what my next career move might be, I cam across a book call Be your own Life Coach by UK-based coach Fiona Harrold.  I’m not sure I ever finished that book, but I’ll never forget the impact it had on me.  I was majorly impressed by Harold’s attitude, and wanted it for myself. 

I might not have finished the book, but I did apply some of the exercises recommended, and have used them with clients since becoming a coach myself.  If you would like to adopt a more positive outlook on life, this is the process I suggest you try.

Make a Decision

How do you want to be?  What outlook do you wish to have?  What behaviours would you like to adopt?  Write down clear answers to these questions.

Choose some Mentors

Make a list of people (both whom you know personally and famous people) whose outlook you admire.  Write down what it is that you admire about their approach to life.  Commit to emulating their behaviour.

Use affirmations

I used to be hugely sceptical about the power of affirmations, but not any more!  If you are sceptical, please read this post by Kirsten Harrell before dismissing their value.

Having identified how you want to be and what you admire in others, write out affirmations to suit your own desires and recite them morning and evening.  Some examples might be:

"I choose a positive and enthusiastic approach to life."

"I can cope with anything life throws at me."

"I always look for the silver lining."

"I bounce back quickly from life’s rough patches." 

You’ll find plenty more fabulous examples on Kirsten’s blog.

Be Grateful

An attitutude of gratitude is essential to developing and maintaining a positive outlook on life.  Get in the habit of giving thanks daily for all that you have in life – both the big things and the little.  Try keeping a gratitude journal, where you record five things every day that you are thankful for.  Write something new every day.  When you practice gratitude regularly, you start to notice more frequently all the many things in your life there is to be grateful for, and this feeds your new positive outlook.

Fake it till you make it

Your transformation is unlikely to take place overnight.  You are changing your habits of thinking, and all habits require time, patience and practice to establish or replace.  In the meantime, practice adopting the outlook and approach of those you admire – no-one else will know you’re pretending.  When you catch yourself in the act of thinking in your old negative way, reframe the thought immediately and recite some of your affirmations. 

Keep getting back on the horse until it does become habit.  One day you’ll surprise yourself when you realise that this new way of being comes to you naturally.

I realise that to many this simple approach might appear unlikely, but isn’t it worth a try?  My attitude when I made the decision was "what have I got to lose?"  And look at me now – I’m an annoyingly positive person!

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Posted in Attitude, Personal Development
One comment on “The Journey from Pessimism to Optimism
  1. Hi Hilda,
    Great post! What a cool journey for you. Whether you are born an optimist or you become an optimist, the benefits are the same. Since positive attitudes are contagious, I am sure you are helping the people around you become more positive also.
    Thanks for the links!

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