How to Become More of an Optimist

May 08, 2023 Lifestyle Tips 5 MIN

How to Become More of an Optimist

What is an optimist, you may ask? No, it's not the person who checks your eyes; that's an optometrist. An optimist sees the best possible future, doesn't let the possibility of disappointment get them down, and enjoys the benefits of positive thinking. And thankfully, unlike an optometrist, being an optimist doesn't require years of medical school; you can start today!

Positive thinking can not only influence your mood and how you see the world, but it can also positively influence your health! Studies show that those who practice positive thinking have longer life expectancies than those who don't.[1] If you think positively, your body follows suit! Here are some tips on how to cultivate optimism in your day-to-day life.

Tips for Boosting Your Optimism

1 Positive Self Talk

How you view the world is primarily influenced by your self-talk. Everyone has an internal monologue of thoughts about the world around them, and if those thoughts are mostly negative, you might be a pessimist. If you want to become an optimist, you'll want to, as the Bing Crosby song goes, "accentuate the positive." Making a concerted effort to give your positive thoughts more attention helps support your mood and lets you see the best in the world.

Knowing that you can't (and shouldn't) "eliminate the negative" is essential. Negative thoughts are natural; refusing to acknowledge or express them bottles them up inside. But not letting those negative thoughts define or overwhelm you is critical to an optimistic worldview. Acknowledge them, then challenge those negative thoughts with a more positive version. You don't even have to believe it. Eventually, when you get used to giving yourself positive alternatives, they won't seem quite so unbelievable. When your interior world is brighter, the outside world starts to feel brighter too!

2 Try Practical Solutions

It can be hard to avoid losing hope when faced with difficulties and setbacks. Those feelings of disappointment are natural, but just because things aren't exactly going the way you planned doesn't mean there's no other way forward. Take a step back, try a mindfulness or breathing exercise, and think of each difficulty one step at a time. Here’s one to try:

  • Breathe in through your nose.
  • Hold and count to five.
  • Breathe out through your mouth.
  • Hold and count to five.
  • Repeat until you can calmly approach your problem.

When you clear your head and take it beat by beat, the solutions are often more straightforward than you might think! One way of making the future seem brighter is taking action to make it so.

3 Treat Yourself to a Quick, Relaxing Break

This tip may seem silly, but one way to manage your mood health is to look up cat videos online. Studies show that watching silly videos of cats playing or doing something cute can actually do a lot to put you in a better mood![2] But if cat videos aren’t your speed, just take some time to cool off by doing something relaxing. It’s much easier to be an optimist when you’re not in the heat of the moment. Watch an episode of your favorite sitcom, play a non-competitive stress-relieving game, and return to the problem. With a bit of distance from the initial disappointment, you will likely see favorable resolutions instead of negative ones.

4 Learn Applicable Lessons

Sometimes things go wrong, and you can’t fix them immediately. Everything is a learning experience; you can often rectify those problems or mistakes in the future. It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that just because something goes wrong once, it will go wrong in the future. But here’s the secret: you’ll be more successful next time because you’ve had this experience. You’ve learned valuable lessons that you can apply next time this situation comes around, and they’ll help you to succeed. Write yourself an after-action report: note down what went wrong and what went right, so you can refer to it the next time a similar situation comes up. Don't take one setback as a reason to be pessimistic, but rather as a stepping stone to optimism.

5 Turn Off Social Media

One reliable way to put yourself in a more positive mood is to disengage from social media. With the advent of smartphones, we have a constant loudspeaker telling us every awful thing that happens in the world without showing us the good that balances it out. It's easy to become incredibly cynical when your only window into the world is engineered to maximize negative engagement, so sometimes it's best just to put your phone away and spend time in the real world. The future will seem brighter when it's not filtered through a screen.

6 Plan for the Future

It's much easier to be optimistic about the future when you have things to look forward to. The easiest way to find things to look forward to is by planning them yourself! Don't get stuck in the same routine over and over; make simple plans in the future to shake up your schedule. Anything you want to do, set aside time in the future to fully enjoy it. It can be seeing a friend, watching a movie, driving to a nearby park, or hiking. Small plans add up to make the next day, the next week, and the next month something to look forward to!

7 Take Good Care of Your Body

Your body and your mood are deeply linked: taking care of one often supports the other. Regular exercise plays a vital role in brain function. Exercise has been shown to release serotonin, a neurochemical that supports mood health.[3] Ensuring your body and brain get all the essential nutrients they need is crucial. Vital nutrients like  Vitamin B6, Folic Acid, and Vitamin B12 support the body and brain's production of SAM-e, which is important to neurotransmitter function and mood health. A supplement like Nature Made® Time Release B-100 Complex Tablets provides all 8 essential B vitamins to support a healthy brain and nervous system. EPA + DHA is often found in seafood-rich diets and can help support a healthy mood. If your diet lacks these nutrients, you can supplement them with  Nature Made® Extra Strength Omega-3†† from Fish Oil Softgels with heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA, that help support a healthy heart, brain, eyes & a healthy mood.

8 Get Good Sleep

As with most everything, getting good sleep can significantly improve your mood. For an adult, a regular schedule of 7 or more hours of sleep each night helps support your brain functions and mood.[4] When you sleep more regularly, your perspective on life tends to improve. With a healthy attitude, it's much harder to get trapped in negative thoughts and easier to envision a brighter future! If you need occasional sleep support, consider a Melatonin supplement like Nature Made® Extended Release Melatonin 4 mg Tablets that helps you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.

Bottom Line

Looking at the bright side of life may seem difficult, but it's easier than you think! If you take care of your body, engage in healthy mood regulation, and use every bump as a step to success, you'll soon find that optimism comes naturally. And once you start to see a brighter future, you'll be in a much better place to make it happen! 

Learn More About Mood Health:


† These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.


References 

  1. Brummett BH, Helms MJ, Dahlstrom WG, Siegler IC. Prediction of all-cause mortality by the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory Optimism-Pessimism Scale scores: study of a college sample during a 40-year follow-up period. Mayo Clin Proc. 2006;81(12):1541-1544. doi:10.4065/81.12.1541
  2. Myrick JG. Emotion regulation, procrastination, and watching cat videos online: Who watches internet cats, why, and to what effect? Computers in Human Behavior. 2015;52:168-176. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2015.06.001
  3. Heijnen, S., Hommel, B., Kibele, A., & Colzato, L. S. (2016). Neuromodulation of Aerobic Exercise-A Review. Frontiers in psychology6, 1890. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01890
  4. NIH News in Health. The Benefits of Slumber: Why You Need a Good Night's Sleep. April 2013. Accessed on: April 14, 2023. https://newsinhealth.nih.gov/2013/04/benefits-slumber

Authors

Graham Morris

NatureMade Copywriter

Graham has a degree in film with a focus on screenwriting from the University of California, Santa Cruz. He enjoys learning new things and finding the best, most engaging way to communicate them to a wide audience. Graham appreciates simplicity in life and nutrition, and wants to find the easiest, no-stress ways to stay healthy.

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Kalyn Williams, RDN

Science and Health Educator

Kalyn is a Registered Dietitian-Nutritionist and a Science & Health Educator with the Medical and Scientific Communications team at Pharmavite. Her experience in the field of nutrition prior to joining Pharmavite has included community and public health education, media dietetics, and clinical practice in the areas of disordered eating, diabetes, women’s health, and general wellness. Kalyn received her Bachelor of Science degree in Nutrition and Dietetics from Arizona State University in Phoenix, Arizona, and completed her dietetic supervised practice in Maricopa County, AZ, with an emphasis on public health. Kalyn is certified in Integrative and Functional Nutrition through the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, where she is an active member in addition to memberships in Dietitians in Functional Medicine, Women’s Health Dietitians, and the International Federation of Eating Disorder Dietitians.

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