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How to Be an Optimist

by Mary Beth Janssen

One attitude that beautifully supports holistic thinking is optimism, our ability to see the best in everyone and everything. It gives us the perceptiveness to see a beautiful and good world and to learn and grow from all that we experience, positive or negative.

Here’s an example: Say something has been stolen from you. Naturally, this feels like a violation. In many respects, it is, but if you shift your perception to detachment (a true spiritual practice—one of the Seven Spiritual Laws at chopra.com), you may be able to see that whoever took this thing must have needed it more than you! Eliciting this type of energy can prevent feelings of grief, sadness, or victimization from creating a stranglehold on your joy.

This is not to belittle that something was stolen from you or deny that you deserve to feel the resultant emotions, but steeping yourself in these emotions or in endless negativity will greatly impact your mind-body health, including your brain health. This is a medically proven fact. It is essential to focus instead on feelings of optimism that will get you through the situation more quickly so that you come out of it with your mind-body health in a much better place, if not totally unscathed.

Research shows that optimists tend to be more capable of fighting disease. Optimism can fiercely power up the immune system. Optimists also have lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Optimism develops tremendous resiliency, the ability to take what life hands you and get through it, get over it, and get on with it. It’s the ability to be challenged without breaking down.

What makes a person resilient? Resilient people tend to be self-reliant, flexible, and capable of nurturing personal relationships. They tend to be compassionate and forgiving towards themselves and others. These people are also able to learn important life lessons from bad events rather than feel like a victim.

We all experience misfortunes and losses; it’s part of our destiny in life. Yet, it’s exactly these setbacks that can serve to strengthen our will. Be gentle while allowing yourself to bounce back. Don’t stop enjoying the wonder and miracle of life.

Positive affirmations can serve as a dynamic tool in deprogramming negativity while reprogramming ourselves toward being the optimist.

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