Five Ways to Increase Optimism for the Holidays
Optimism may seem elusive in light of current world events. Nonetheless, we all know the metaphor about looking at the glass half empty or half full. Regardless of our natural tendency, there is something about the holidays that makes many of us eager to extend extra effort to focus outward and increase cheer.
Oxford Dictionaries defines optimism as: “Hopefulness and confidence about the future or the success of something.”.
We can open any social media app on our phones during the holidays and see gratitude posts or exciting pictures of holiday activities. At this time of the year, most people are drawn to optimism; but why does it matter?
Not only does optimism statistically increase your psychical and emotional health, it also increases creativity and influence as well. We are more likely to generate new and better ideas when not burdened by pessimism. Our optimism is contagious, multiplying its influence and effect on those around us as a result.
Consider these few tips to increase optimism:
Many of us find it far easier to see something wrong with a difficult situation as opposed to intentionally looking for what can be positive about it. Nonetheless, even negative events may also have a positive side. Every adverse experience does contain a lesson we can learn. When we find the lesson, we inherently create a future action plan giving us options for what to do next time. The more we choose to consciously redirect our thinking to find potential in any situation, the more our perspective begins to frame the positive on its own.
Assume there is always a backstory.
Although the charm of the holidays can bring out the best in some people, the season can also be a source of pain for others. Rudeness always has a story. People are seldom unkind “just because.” When someone reacts angrily, there is always something that internally triggers his or her response. Keeping this in mind – while taking a step back from assuming personal insult and reacting immediately to the anger – helps us respond with discretion; maintain dignity; mitigate regret; and, quite possibly, diffuse a “no win” situation.
Let go of what you cannot control.
This “most wonderful time of the year” is also the “most busy time of the year.” Many circumstances are likely out of our control. Other people are out of our control. Outcomes may, quite well, be out of our control. Time spent fretting over things we cannot control becomes wasted time. Instead, we can direct our energy to improving what we can control: ourselves and our response to any given situation. Choosing to be purposeful with our time by dedicating off-time to a hobby, reading a good book, and/or inviting conversation with family and friends affirms us and communicates value to those we engage. We always have options for creativity in choosing time well spent.
Procrastination creates panic. When the to-do lists pile and time runs short, the natural reaction is to revert to survival mode. Optimism is difficult in the midst of panic. Conversely, well-planned, well-executed productivity leads to higher self-esteem and natural optimism. Maintaining a margin that allows managing unexpected interruptions, rising to any occasion, and effectively staying “one step ahead” innately energizes and enhances outlook.
Do something for someone else, expecting nothing in return.
The ironic aspect of doing something for someone expecting nothing is return is that the giver, more often than not, becomes the greater beneficiary. Serving leads to an optimistic shift in perspective. Serving gifts us with opportunity – what we can do for others. Kindness and gifts of service we proactively extend vitalize us, and the giving, most often, becomes the much greater gift.
During this holiday season, practice optimism. You will find yourself happier, more compelling, and more influential. Others cannot help but catch positivity. Notice what’s good in the midst of this busy season. There is no better way to remember those good things in our lives than by choosing an optimistic frame of mind.