How to become an optimist

You know that “Is the glass half empty or half full?” analogy? I’m sure you’ve heard of it—basically it explains how people perceive things, and how that makes them an optimist, pessimist or realist. It goes something like this:

A glass that is filled at the halfway mark with water is sitting on a table. Someone who is an optimist (aka always looking for the good in a situation) would look at that glass and say it’s half-full. Meanwhile, someone who is a pessimist (aka always looking for the bad in a situation) would say it’s half-empty. And, someone who is a realist (aka seeing the situation for what it really is) would say it’s technically both half-full and half-empty.

It shows how people perceive the world based on what they want to see. You can choose to see that glass as full or you can choose to see that glass as empty. It’s all about what you’re looking for.

Looking at the bright side

If you want to look on the bright side, you first have to acknowledge that there is a dark side.

I mean, in order for a glass to be half full it also has to be half empty, right? Even the most avid optimist will think for a moment that the glass is half empty. The key is that those people don’t dwell on the emptiness of the glass.

Instead, they choose to ignore that and focus specifically on the positive part of the situation: the fact that they have half a glass of water.

Analogies aside, isn’t that how we should all look at life? In every single situation that occurs, there is a positive view of it and a negative view of it. Seriously, any situation. Literally think of any situation in the world and I promise you can find both a positive and a negative side to it. (Just read on to see my point.)

Launching yourself into the bright side

Now, in order for you to make optimism come naturally, you not only have to look on the bright side, but you have to literally (well, not actually literally) immerse yourself into “the bright side.”

You have to force yourself to find the good in every poor situation that crosses your path. Honestly, you’re going to become annoyed with yourself when you do this. And, if you’re annoyed with yourself, odds are that other people are going to be annoyed with you, too.

(It’s weird, actually, being an optimistic person tends to annoy a lot of people.)

At first, you might find it difficult to find the positive in especially-sucky situations, but the more you do it the easier it becomes. Practice makes perfect, right?

Let me lay out a few scenarios for you, (starting with the slightly inconvenient and ending with oh-my-gosh-what-do-I-do-now) so you can see how the magic works:

  1. You pour cereal into your bowl, then realize there’s no milk.
  2. You spill your coffee all over your pants on the way to work.
  3. You stub your toe in the bathroom door, while you’re still half asleep.
  4. You’re stuck in a traffic jam.
  5. You hit a massive Ohio pothole (those things are insane) and blow your tire.
  6. You lose your job—that you actually enjoyed.

Now, how do you make these situations positive?

  1. Hey, now you have an excuse to eat ice cream. Forget the cereal and scoop yourself a nice bowl of ice cream. I mean, it’s kind of close to milk, right?
  2. At least your coffee wasn’t scalding. That’s the beauty of it being mostly creamer.
  3. There is nothing positive about this. Take the loss. (Kidding, at least it’s not broken. And I’m talking about the door not your toe, because your toe is probably broken.)
  4. You’re in a traffic jam because of an accident. At least you weren’t part of the accident.
  5. A new tire isn’t that big of a deal. It could’ve been a lot worse.
  6. When one door closes, another opens. There are more (better) opportunities for you!

When in doubt, remember two things: (1) Good things can come from bad things, so think down the road of how this situation could potentially benefit you or someone else; and (2) Most times, when you think about how the situation could have been worse, you can focus on the positive.

There’s always a positive

As you’re morphing yourself into someone who naturally looks at the world from an optimistic point of view, you just have to remember one thing: there’s always a positive.

No matter where you are or what you’re doing, you can always choose to focus on the good instead of the bad. It may be hard at first, but eventually you’ll do it without even thinking about it, and you’ll be amazed at the changes in your life.

Just remember the more you look for the good, the more you’ll find the good. You’ll be a natural in no time.

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