When things are bad, there’s nothing quite as annoying as having some cheery optimist tell you to look on the bright side. So, if you find this article is making you want to hurl your iPad out the window, please put it down, take a few deep breaths and walk away – the screens on those things are fragile and I’m not at all optimistic about your insurance covering it.
As annoying as optimism can sometimes be, it is a known resilience factor, which can help us through difficult times. One of the very positive findings from our research, is that people who complete our program become significantly more optimistic.
Optimism doesn’t have to just be some hopeful belief that everything will work out in the end. It can be built on far more solid foundations. Our program is all about teaching people skills that help them to adapt successfully. After completing it, most people have greater confidence that they can handle whatever comes their way. It is this, rather than some hopeful belief or boundless positivity, which serves to develop an optimistic outlook.
If you are searching for some other reasons for optimism right now, there are a number of things you may consider:
Human resilience has been described as ‘ordinary magic’ and it’s something we all possess. We are helped by our big brains, which are wired for survival and provide us with some pretty amazing abilities. When faced with something difficult we are able to collaborate, plan and come up with all sorts of ingenious solutions. In response to the pandemic, most of us have adjusted our lives in all sorts of ways. We’re looking out for each other and working to make things better.
While Disneyland bills itself as the happiest place on earth, it’s quite possible to sadly spin around in a teacup, wondering what the point of it all is. The fact is, our outlook determines our happiness far more than our circumstances. When we learn the ability to find joy and beauty in what we have, we can live with far greater contentment than if we fixate on some vision of a ‘perfect’ life. Regularly practising gratitude can increase our satisfaction with life and make us far more optimistic about the future.
When things are going along normally, we can find all sorts of unimportant things which worry, agitate or distract us. In times of crisis, we start to focus on what’s truly important. Over the past few months many people have dedicated themselves to taking care of physical health, nurturing mental health and looking out for family, friends and other members of our community. By acting in accordance with our values, we can all develop a greater sense of purpose, connection and a more optimistic outlook.
Over the past months many of us have managed to get along marvelously well without things like visiting shopping centres, dressing up for meetings or spending hours commuting. We’re doing things differently and coming up with solutions that work. We are becoming less bound by convention and less stuck in old ways. We don’t have to go back to all those things which don’t really serve us. Now is an opportunity to spend our precious time on this planet more wisely and honour what truly matters most to us.
Right now, things are a bit dull. You’ve probably watched all of Tiger King already and there’s not a whole lot who you can go out and do. There is however much to look forward to. There will be Wednesday night netball, Friday night dancing, weekend footy and all those other things which were once highlights of our weeks. There will be barbecues, parties, concerts, weddings and weekends away. Playgrounds will reopen and kids will swing off monkey bars. There will be bearhugs… and it’s quite likely they will feel amazing.