Wednesday, February 23, 2011

How full is your glass?

The Oxford English Dictionary defines optimism as having "hopefulness and confidence about the future or successful outcome of something; a tendency to take a favourable or hopeful view."

Most times, that ain't easy for a writer. But if you're going to succeed in this business, you have to be persistent and remain optimistic.

Theologians and philosophers have encouraged optimism for centuries. But a Harvard study several years ago showed a correlation between optimism and good health. They weren’t sure which came first – good health or optimism. But optimism appeared to lower blood pressure and reduce the incidence of heart disease.

So how does one go about seeing the glass half full instead of half empty?

1. Stop playing the martyr. Some people are pessimists because of family influence. Figure out why you feel the world is against you, dump those feelings and start looking for the silver lining in every cloud.

2. Even if you’ve had bad experiences in the past, that doesn’t mean your entire future is doomed. This attitude can turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy.

3. If you don’t like your life, change it. Learn from past negative experience and use it to make better decisions. A lot of life includes taking risks and not all of them will have a happy ending. But some will, so why miss out on the good out of fear of the bad? Step out on faith and hope for the best.

4. Let the power of positive affirmations work in your life. If you have trouble thinking them, write them down and post them where you will see them – on your bathroom mirror, on your computer monitor, on the visor in your car, on the wall beside your desk at work. Some examples are “I can only control MY attitude” or “I choose to be positive.”

5. When you start to view the glass as half empty, remind yourself that life is short and the time you spend worrying takes time away from enjoying life. Pessimism is counter-productive because you are worrying about things that might never happen instead of working toward goals that can happen.

6. Balance your optimism with a healthy dose of pragmatism. Pollyanna’s “Glad Game” was great for the movies, but sticking your head in the sand and ignoring all the possibilities can set you up for failure too. Prepare for the worst but hope for the best. It’s a win-win attitude.

Need some tips for staying optimistic? Smile! It takes fewer muscles to smile than to frown, and when you smile, the world will smile back. Share your optimism with others. If someone is being negative, share a little optimism with them. Watch positive TV shows and listen to upbeat music. Who can listen to the theme song from “Rocky” and not want to conquer the world? Practice random acts of kindness. Count your blessings, no matter how small. Focusing on a blue, sun-shiny day helps take your mind off the negatives.

Are you a half-full or half-empty person? If you answer half-empty, I challenge you to practice some of the tips above for a month and see if you don’t see the glass differently.

P.S. The first photo is my first cat, Graycie, may she rest in peace. I love this photo of her and her optimistic attitude.

Now listen to a little Rocky music and go conquer the world!


Stephanie Jones said...

I am definitely a glass is half full and oh look at the pretty designs on it sort of gal! I a relentless in my pursuit of optimism.

PM-Thanks for the great tips on mentally staying on the bright side of life.

Jean Hovey said...

I am absolutely an optimistic person--to the point that I've been accused of never having had anything bad happen to me, which is laughable. If I were a pessimist, I'd name some of those bad things, but why bother? They happened. Everybody has bad things happen. Everybody lands in the ditch. It's just a matter of how you choose to get out. A friend of mine pointed out to me recently that she and I are alike in that we've never gone after something that we didn't get--eventually. That doesn't mean I have accomplished all I want. It just means I'm not done yet.

PM's Mother said...

Just call me Pollyanna! I've always been optimistic, but with a streak of cynicism.

My philosophy:
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.

And of course there's Annie:

The sun'll come out
Bet your bottom dollar
That tomorrow
There'll be sun!

Just thinkin' about
Clears away the cobwebs,
And the sorrow
'Til there's none!

When I'm stuck a day
That's gray,
And lonely,
I just stick out my chin
And Grin,
And Say,

The sun'll come out
So ya gotta hang on
'Til tomorrow
Come what may
Tomorrow! Tomorrow!
I love ya Tomorrow!
You're always
A day
A way!

Yes, the glass is definitley half full.

(I'll bet all of you will be humming that tune for the rest of the day!)

robertsonreads said...

I am a lady who sees the glass half full. And I hope I never change. Life can be hard, but pick yourself up and go at it.

Smarty Pants said...

I hate to say I'm a pessimist. I think I'm just too protective of myself to build my hopes up too high. Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.

Maybe I should just be pleased to have a glass not worry about what's in it or how much.

I love that cat picture.

Katherine Bone said...

I'm in between sometimes, but mostly I try to keep it real by being positive. There is no greater talent than to make life better for someone else. If we can achieve an ounce of that for someone, we'll be blessed a hundred-fold.

What a beautiful photo of your cat. Did you take it?

Katherine Bone said...

I'm in between but I tend to see things as being positive, if not for me, at least for others. There is no greater gift than to help make someone else's life better. If I can achieve even an ounce of that in my lifetime, I'll be blessed in return.

What a beautiful photo of your cat, PM. Did you take it?

Problem Child said...

Some days it's easier to be optimistic than others. Every so often, I let myself be a little pessimistic and cynical BUT with the optimistic hope it will be better tomorrow.

Angel said...

I'm firmly in the pessimist camp, but consider myself a work in progress. I'll probably never respond with a positive thought at the first sign of trouble, but I eventually get around to seeing the benefits of certain situations.

So those who are pessismists should not feel bad about that, just continue to try to balance their point of view with the positive sides of things. At least, that's my goal. :)


Playground Monitor said...

Yep, I took that picture of Graycie -- back in the days before digital cameras. I had to dig out the picture and scan it.