If you want to live a much happier and satisfying life, you must learn how to stop being pessimistic and start thinking positively. Today’s article helps you learn the ways.
In this article:
- The Optimistic Vs Pessimistic Person: How they React to Situations
- Simple Ways to Help You Stop Being Pessimistic and Become Optimistic
- How to Stop Being Pessimistic in a Relationship
- In Some Cases, Pessimism Can Help
How to Become Optimistic and Stop Being Pessimistic Today
The Optimistic Vs Pessimistic Person: How They React to Situations
When Things Go Wrong
According to Dr. Martin Seligman, author of the book Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life, pessimists tend to believe the following when things go wrong:
- The cause of the negative event is permanent.
- The cause of the negative event is pervasive, meaning it affects everything else negatively.
- They’re the reason for the negative event (e.g. because they’re incompetent or stupid).
On the other hand, optimists tend to look at the causes of negative events or setbacks as:
- Things that can be overcome within a reasonable amount of time
- Isolated or limited only to the problems at hand
- Resulting from other people or temporary situations and have little connection to their capabilities and competencies
When Things Go Well
But when things go well, pessimists tend to do the opposite:
- They believe the causes of the positive events or the positive events themselves are short-lived or temporary.
- They believe the causes of the positive events or the events themselves are limited to a particular area of their lives only.
- They often credit such things to circumstances or others and not themselves.
On the other hand, optimists tend to do the following when things go well:
- They believe the cause of positive events aren’t one-offs but are consistent or permanent.
- They believe such causes can spill over to other areas of their lives.
- They believe that they contributed a big chunk to the positive events in their lives.
Optimists and pessimists exist in our society. However, you may want to have a more positive outlook to gain higher productivity amid adversity.
Simple Ways to Help You Stop Being Pessimistic and Become Optimistic
1. Identify and Replace Your Negativity Sources
Take the time to reflect, for at least an hour, in a quiet place where you can’t be disturbed. Think about people, situations, places, events, and other things that regularly make you think and feel negative.
After identifying the top three to five sources of your negativity, think of ways to drastically cut down your exposure to those negativity sources or triggers. If you find it hard to think of ways to avoid all the sources, focus on just one source.
Implement one or two solutions you came up with for seven days. This ensures you don’t get overwhelmed and quit early.
It’s not enough that you limit your exposure to these negative sources, though. If you don’t fill up the space vacated by your negativity sources, you might subconsciously replace them with new ones or re-expose yourself to them again.
As you drastically reduce the time spent in these negativity sources, make sure you replace them with positivity sources.
These can be people, places, shows, and other things that make you feel good about yourself and the world.
2. Exercise Regularly
Regular exercise, especially cardiovascular workouts like running, helps increase the production of endorphins. This hormone is also referred to as a “happy hormone.”
Increasing your body’s production of it can help you learn how to stop being pessimistic and feel much more positive during the day.
Focusing on your physical health becomes a necessity in becoming one percent better each day. A sound mind rests in a sound body, and a healthy body can lead to a more optimistic thinking and outlook in life.
Here are simple and fun ways to exercise that can bring numerous benefits to your mind and body:
- Doing a short run to wake up your body helps you become healthier and get some sun. You can also find a running buddy who can help you start your day on the right note and stay on track with your fitness goals.
- Working out, whether at home or the gym, also gives you more energy, stamina, and strength. Having a great body can also boost your self-esteem and help you become more optimistic.
- Playing team sports is a great way to be healthy and socialize, which can instantly lift your mood. The positivity of the people around you can also rub off on you, so choose to hang out with happy, healthy people.
3. Look at Challenging Situations from a Much Broader Perspective
Myopic thinking can be very dangerous, especially when it comes to challenging situations or negative events. This is because making mountains of molehill problems often gives them more power than they have to mess up your life.
Take for example getting fired. It can be very easy to blow it out of proportion by thinking it’s the end of your career.
This is what can happen when you focus on the negative event, which in this case is getting fired. You make it bigger and more impactful than it is.
Take a look at this event from the perspective of your entire life by asking yourself questions like:
- Was the reason for you getting fired something chronic or persistent or is just a one-off thing (e.g., the economy, redundancy?)
- Compared to this event, how much more often did you get promoted or pirated because of your skills and experience?
- Is your entire life defined by where you work and what you do? How about the love of your family and friends?
- Is this event so big it nullifies all the other good things in your life?
When you start looking at your challenging situations against the backdrop of your entire life and all the things you can be grateful for, you can feel more positive and hopeful.
This is good for learning how to stop being negative and start being more positive.
4. Practice Gratitude
First thing in the morning, think about the best things in your life like your loved ones. Do it also just before going to bed at night.
Why? It’s very easy to succumb to negative thinking when you take the good things in your life for granted.
But when you frequently think about them and feel a genuine sense of gratitude for them, you feel happier, more content, and more hopeful. It can make your problems pale in comparison, and you may start to feel and think more positively.
Waking up and thinking about happiness can help you start your day brighter. Before going to sleep, try reminding yourself about the wonderful results, growth, and outcomes during the day so you can sleep more peacefully.
Gratitude is a powerful tool that can make you feel better, even when you’re a pessimist. By consciously practicing gratitude, you can learn how to stop being pessimistic and become much more positive in life.
Venting to a friend or loved one can save you more time than wallowing in anxiety and depression.
One of the differences between venting and dwelling on negative thoughts is the duration. Venting lasts for several minutes, while dwelling on negative things can last for hours, days, or even weeks.
Another difference between the two is their effect on one’s mindset and attitude. Venting allows people to release their pent-up negative thoughts and feelings for relief, while dwelling on a negative thought or emotion worsens it and keeps a person stuck.
Vent out your negative thoughts and feelings to a trusted friend or family member that you know can be objective with about your concern. Doing so can help you in two ways:
- Often, venting and hearing yourself talk can help you see things differently and feel more positive about things.
- The person you vent out to may be able to give you a wiser and more positive perspective about your situation and help you acquire a positive perspective on your situation.
So, go ahead and vent. Just make sure you don’t end up dwelling on your negative thoughts and emotions.
6. Be Kind to Somebody Who Needs It
When you help encourage someone who’s in the dumps, chances are, you’ll start feeling positive about yourself and your situation. Maybe it’s because encouraging or lifting others up makes us feel like we matter and can do something meaningful.
There are several practical ways you can be kind to others and bring positivity into their lives. These include:
- Sincerely complimenting others about their skills, talents, accomplishments, or traits
- Giving others advice on how to solve the problems they’re facing
- Helping them out or doing them a favor
- Just being there for them and listening to them vent their feelings
7. Start Your Day on a Positive Note
How you begin your day will most likely determine how you spend and end it. You can win your daily battles even before they begin by starting your day positively.
Start it on a negative note, and you’ll spend the rest of your day thinking and feeling negative.
Some of the ways you can start your day right include:
- Listening to encouraging podcasts
- Reading encouraging or inspiring books, articles, or blogs
- Listening to positive music
How you think in life determines your experience of it. Having a pessimistic attitude might relegate you to a mostly miserable life, but if you’re an optimist, your life can be much happier and fulfilling even during trials.
That’s why learning how to stop being pessimistic and start thinking positive, within reason, of course, is something you should do now. The quality of your life and those surrounding you may depend on it.
How to Stop Being Pessimistic in a Relationship
One source of anxiety and pessimism can be a relationship. This applies to all types of relationships, including romantic, professional, and familial relationships, and friendships.
Some relationship-related issues that can cause anxiety and keep you in a negative state of mind include arguments, jealousy, and refusing to forgive. How can you deal with these?
- Don’t dwell on the bad times. Try to remember the good things about your relationship and think of ways to repair the relationship.
- Let go of jealousy or find a healthier way to deal with it.
- Try to have an objective view, so you can see the situation from both sides and as bias-free as possible.
In Some Cases, Pessimism Can Help
Pessimism, in some cases, can help. In particular, Defensive Pessimism can help with anxiety.
Defensive pessimism can help improve mental health but also in solving problems in the future.
In this strategy, a person sets low expectations, even if they’ve historically performed well in the past. This can help them expect less, which decreases anxiety levels, and helps set realistic expectations.
They use their cognitive bias for failure as motivation in solving a problem. They expect less, which builds self-esteem and skills in making proper expectations.
Do you have a situation where you need to speak in public? Are you having more anxiety for this event compared to others before?
In this case, you may want to have defensive pessimism as a strategy.
Both optimists and pessimists react to the same situation differently. Observing and then modeling your actions to the appropriate mood and mindset can help you change your reaction.
Are you an optimist or a pessimist, and which of these tips will you try to be starting today? Let us know in the comments section below.
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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on July 31, 2019, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.