How To Improve Your Personality | 9 Personality Enhancing Tips
9 Ways to Be More Optimistic
1. Acknowledge what you're grateful for.
One very important component of optimism is gratitude. In fact, a 2003 study published in theJournal of Personality and Social Psychologyfound that there is a strong connection between a grateful attitude and a heightened sense of well-being. Appreciate all the positives in your life by starting a gratitude journal in order to remember what you're thankful for. "I carry a small notebook in my purse and jot down moments of good in my life," says veteran broadcast journalist Deborah Norville, author ofThank You Power. "When I look back at the entries, seeing the words rekindles the good feelings that prompted me to enter them in the first place." By remembering the pleasant things in your life, you can actually turn a negative attitude around.
2. Fake happiness until you feel it.
Feeling down? Instead of moping around waiting for the universe to throw you a bone, try acting like you're happy—even if you aren't. "The brain can be influenced top down and bottom up to make changes," says Mark C. Brown, PhD, psychologist and author of the upcomingLive Like a Window, Work Like a Mirror. He explains that a genuine smile and a forced smile will cause the same chemical reactions in your brain, so you can actually fool your mind into feeling better by making it react chemically as if things were going well. "So act in an optimistic way—smile, laugh, tell a joke or reassure yourself that everything is good—even if you don't feel it."
3. Evaluate the good in your life.
It's easy to focus on the bad events when they occur, looking at them from all angles in order to find out what went wrong. However, doing the opposite actually helps you become more optimistic. In 2005, Martin Seligman, PhD, a psychology professor at the University of Pennsylvania, published a study in which he asked a group of people to complete the "Three Good Things" exercise. Every night for six months, participants wrote down three things that went well that day, along with explanations for why they happened. At the end of the study the participants were happier and less depressed than when they started. The idea is that by forcing yourself to think about why good things occur—"My presentation at work went well because I spent a lot of time preparing for it"—you'll start to see your life in a more positive way, helping you to be more optimistic about your future.
4. Be mindful of your surroundings.
You don't have to break out the love beads or enroll in a yoga class to practice mindfulness; it simply means being aware of what's going on around you as well as what you're thinking. "Often, things that sap our positive outlook and energy are either remnants from the past or worries about the future," says motivational speaker and happiness expert Valerie Sheppard. "Being present with what is, rather than what was or what might be, helps us feel confident and cheerful in the here-and-now." But how do you do it? Rather than trying to change the way you feel because it's "bad," simply acknowledge it and move on. So, instead of thinking "I feel so stressed out and need to stop right now," think, "I feel stressed out and that's OK." Or, try focusing on something in your immediate surroundings, whether that's your breathing or the pretty scenery outside your office window. By focusing your attention on something else, this will stop you from feeling badly about, well, feeling badly.
5. Turn off the news…
…and turn on something more uplifting, like the National Geographic Channel. Though you may think that vigilantly keeping up with the latest events is simply informing you, it may also be bringing you down. "The more we immerse ourselves in doom-and-gloom sermons, the more we succumb to their energy," says Sheppard. "Trade in the things that raise your fear and frustration for alternatives that elevate your hopefulness and inspiration."
6. Counter every negative with a positive.
Every time you stumble upon a roadblock, challenge yourself to think of something good that's happening as well. "People tend to think in an either-or way: If you're stuck in traffic, then everything else must be going horribly too," says Anne Parker, a wellness counselor at Miraval Resort & Spa in Tucson, Arizona. By blowing negative events out of proportion, you're setting yourself up for feeling down all day. "Instead, acknowledge that you're stuck in traffic, but also bring to mind something good, like the beautiful scenery outside the window, the interesting radio show you're listening to or a hug from your child that morning." That way, you'll get in the habit of forbidding negative circumstances from blanketing your whole day, and you'll learn to see them as just one small part of an otherwise good day.
7. Focus on small goals instead of big ones.
Pledging to lose 20 pounds or run a marathon seem like goals that will lead to happiness, except that people have a tendency to beat themselves up if they struggle to obtain them. "It's our natural tendency to focus on what we haven't accomplished instead of what we have," says Parker. Major life goals take time to achieve, so by focusing on not having accomplished them yet, you will start to feel down on yourself—and may even end up throwing in the towel, causing your outlook on life to worsen. However, if you focus on the small milestones that occur along the way, you will feel positive about your progress, which will give you the momentum to keep going. "If your goal is to lose 20 pounds, know that you have to do it one pound at a time. Instead of beating yourself up for still being overweight, despite weeks of dieting and exercise, congratulate yourself for dropping three pounds."
8. Help someone in need.
Want to give your attitude a boost? Try making someone else's day better. A report by UnitedHealthcare and VolunteerMatch found that volunteers are 72% more likely to characterize themselves as optimistic compared with non-volunteers. Plus, 89% of volunteers say that volunteering has improved their sense of well-being, and 92% say that it enriches their sense of purpose in life. Find a way to give back near you by visiting VolunteerMatch.org or the Volunteers of America website.
9. Decide to be happy every day.
Many of us don't think about needing to have a positive outlook when things are going well—it's only when we're stressed out or in a foul mood that we wish we could press the "optimism button." But, according to Dr. Brown, the ideal moment to make a conscious decision to be happy is at the start of your day. "Each morning, while you're still in bed, say and repeat statements like, 'This is going to be a good day' or 'I'm looking forward to this day because…' The best time to do this is when you're relaxed and your mind is unencumbered by concerns or anxiety." By beginning your morning on the right foot, you can program your mind to be more optimistic all day long.
Video: 8 SCIENTIFIC TRICKS TO BECOME PERFECTLY HAPPY
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