Is the Glass Half-Full or Half-Empty?

Two people can look at the same glass and see something completely different.  A “glass-half-full” person is someone who is an optimist and sees the positive in everything. On the flip side, a “glass-half-empty” person is someone who first goes to the darker side, thinking the worst of any situation.

Where do you typically land?

Whatever your natural default, there are times when we all go to “glass-half-empty” place. It’s understandable when we feel that someone has wronged us or that something has not gone our way. But it begs the question…How can we more quickly move through any momentary feelings of pessimism or avoid living in a place where it’s all negativity, all the time?

If you tend to linger in a pessimistic place a bit too long – or go there a bit too often – the good news is that optimism is an outlook that can be cultivated. Here are a few tips to help you more readily look on the bright side.

Watch your language. Whether you are speaking out loud or replaying a scenario in your head, your words become your reality.  Try to rid your vocabulary of overly harsh words or judgments and reframe a situation in a more positive light. For example, instead of thinking that things went “horribly wrong,” try shift your thoughts to “things didn’t go as I intended.”  You might also consider replacing neutral adjectives with their more enthusiastic counterparts. When asked how you are doing, instead of responding “ok” or “fine,” opt for a more positive “well” or even “great.” Our words are more powerful than we know.

Shift your focus. Instead of focusing on a problem, re-direct your energy to finding a solution. Ask yourself, “What is one step that I can take that can improve the situation?” Focusing on a possible solution instead of dwelling on the problem is more empowering and opens up the door to possibility and moving forward.  Alternatively, you might try to find the silver lining and ask yourself “What’s the lesson here?”  You might not be able to change the outcome, but there’s a good chance that there is something to be learned.

Appreciate the little things. Admittedly this is difficult to do when you’re not feeling it, but try to give it a go. At the start or end of each day, write down two or three things that have filled you with gratitude. It could be anything from a delicious cup of coffee, to a good hair day, to an empty subway car. Before you know it, you will have amassed a healthy handful of happy moments. Think of this as your pool of positivity, available for you to jump into when something (or someone) triggers feelings of pessimism or negativity.

Surround yourself with optimists. Olympic gymnast Mary Lou Retton once said, “Optimism is a happiness magnet.” The truth is that when you are around positive, upbeat people, you can’t help but take on these tendencies. Take inventory of your inner circle. Who lifts you up?  Who pulls you down? Step away from the Debbie Downers and instead seek out the company of only those people who provide support and encouragement.

While admittedly an optimistic attitude doesn’t change that fact that difficult or challenging things may come up, I am optimistic that it will change how you think and feel about them~

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