I had a childhood friend who always smiled, cracked jokes, and looked on the bright side. I didn’t understand her. For me, life was scattered with difficulty and steeped in moodiness. That is not to say I didn’t have moments of joy or that life was all-around bad, I just never gave much consideration to those parts. I was attracted to what didn’t work and there seemed to be plenty of that.
Just after high school, I made friends with a few women who were a bit older than me, who had been caught in the cycle of discord I found myself in, but who had discovered an alternative path to its muck and mire. They had discovered…optimism.
Optimism was a grand, new idea. It electrified all sorts of neural pathways in my mind which had never been stimulated. Not only did it mean searching out vastly different possibilities for a situation than I might normally have assigned, but it denoted choice.
I had never considered that I might have the ability to choose my thoughts or that my thoughts might have an influence on my life, but once that door was opened, I made strides in my life I had never imagined before.
I felt smarter, luckier, prettier, and eventually, happier.
Cultivating optimism has become a powerful tool. It has brought me through some very difficult times. After doing it for several decades, I sometimes take it for granted, but in all honestly, I easily slip back into assuming the worst occasionally or forget to look for the bright side.
I have made a practice of being optimistic. Like any practice, I often fall short… which is the nature of being human. But once I realize I have spiraled into some degree of despair, I usually get a signal that something is off in my world. The signal might come in the form of butterflies in my stomach, a feeling of dread or doom, gnawing worry, or procrastination. Luckily after so many years of working with optimism, I can usually get myself into a better mindset which helps greatly in making me feel better.