There’s no denying that 2020 has been a very difficult year for all of us so far thanks to COVID-19 and sustaining a healthy, happy lifestyle has often seemed like an impossible juggling act. Nevertheless, history has shown us that maintaining a positive attitude and a sense of optimism can help make life more bearable and help us to develop the internal fortitude to keep going when things look grim.
I am not suggesting that we behave like Pollyanna, the girl from Eleanor H. Porter’s 1913 novel who, with her father, played the “glad game” as a method of coping with the difficulties and sorrows that beset them. Nor am I suggesting that we paint on a smile and try to cope with things alone. Many of us could benefit greatly from objective and non-judgemental support and in such instances, there are plenty of online resources to help us – for example counseling from BetterHelp.
But, with the power of hope, optimism, and positive thinking, it is easier to keep your balance.
The Power of Hope & Why it Matters
For some, hope is simply “wishful thinking” but that’s not, I believe, a great place to be. We may go through life with an expectation of how it “should” look, yet life frequently delivers us something entirely different.
We make plans and then something gets in the way of those plans: the actions of others, circumstances beyond our control like a job loss or divorce. One of the hardest things to accept is that we are not always in control. However, the beauty of hope lies within what we can control – our reaction.
When we take on being hopeful, we take back our power. The art of being hopeful allows us to understand that, while we cannot control the circumstance at this moment, we can hope for something better in the future. When we are hopeful, our actions emanate from that positive belief. Being hopeful puts us in the driver’s seat and we can head in a different direction.
The Power of Optimism & Why It Matters
While being hopeful is essential in maintaining our equilibrium when life throws us a curve, being optimistic is different. The power of optimism is key to sustaining a healthy balance in all areas of life such as relationships, career, and health. What is optimism? The best way to describe optimism is having a positive expectation, a certainty, that all things will work out in your life with the most optimal result.
The more optimistic you are, the more you expect to get positive results. When you maintain an optimistic outlook, your brain attempts to produce results that are in alignment with your mindset. Your actions stem from your beliefs; if you believe things will work out for the best, your thoughts, feelings, and, actions reflect that belief.
The Power of Positive Thinking & Why it Matters
While hope is an intentional mindset for future goals, wishes, and desires and optimism is a way of living life from a habit of being certain of positive outcomes, positive thinking is more of a conscious lifestyle.
Positive thinking is a way of looking at a situation and finding the silver lining. For example, if you lose your job, you could view this as either an ending or a new beginning. You may find an even better job or start your own company. Reframing something negative with the power of positive thinking and seeing the potential gives us the power to see the possibilities within our experience.
Whilst we cannot always control our circumstances, we can control how we think about them using the power of hope, optimism, and positive thinking. That is one choice which is always ours.
There are also benefits to our physical health by adopting a more positive frame of mind.
If you adopt the belief system of “I think I can, and I know I will,” you are likely to find that your diet and exercise routines are transformed.
In the story of “The Little Engine that Could,” the little blue engine goes to the rescue of a larger train which has broken down and, with much determination and effort, manages to pull the larger engine over the mountain. However, without the benefit of an optimistic mindset (“I think I can, I think I can”), the Little Engine might not have succeeded.
This kind of determination will help us in all circumstances and the benefits of adopting a positive outlook include:
- A healthier mind and body
- Improved sleep
- Increased self-esteem and self-confidence
- Increased momentum in reaching our goals
- A willingness to take on other challenges in life
We are also more likely to be attractive to others so our friendships and relationships may improve greatly. I am sure you have heard the expression that “some people are radiators and others are drains” or that some are “energy vampires” who make everyone feel low and miserable in their company. That said, it should be remembered that these behaviours may well be symptoms of depression so those who struggle to be positive may well need help or counseling.
If you constantly focus on how hard something is going to be or how much you hate doing it, you are unlikely to succeed.
This will only make you think, feel, and take action steps in the opposite direction of having optimal physical health. Optimistically focusing on the thought process of “I think I can, and I know I will,” keeps your mindset in a forward-moving, goal-setting pace where your goals are more achievable.
And, don’t forget that our mental and physical health are connected. If you’ve ever been disappointed, I am sure you’re familiar with the sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach.
Our emotions, thoughts, and feelings are all stored in our bodies somewhere. When we are nervous the ‘fight or flight’ response kicks in and we get butterflies or an upset stomach. When we are anxious we may experience sweaty palms and trembling, while embarrassment may make us blush crimson.
We are facing an uncertain future but one thing is for sure, adopting a more positive attitude and using the power of hope and optimism, is more likely to see us through than negative thinking and pessimism. Our support networks of friends and family are so important, aren’t they? But we should not hesitate to seek outside help if we feel our coping mechanisms are stretched too thin.
As they say, you have to put the oxygen mask on yourself first if you want to help others.