Though I'm happy to see another year has come and gone, I'm also dreading what's in store for 2017. After all, 2016 didn't exactly have the best track record. But as I sit here, questionably dreading the future that lies ahead, I've realized something. I can either wallow, or I can buck up and infuse some optimism into my life. Because there are ways to be more optimistic that are available at my fingertips — I just haven't really been choosing to use those fingertips to scoop up the optimistic opportunity. But in order to not only survive the new year (and beyond), but live in it, it's time I tap into the optimism tree and start reaping some of the happier benefits optimism has to offer.
Because wallowing really isn't going to get me anywhere. And if I've learned anything this past year, it's that sometimes a little (or, OK, a lot) of optimism is exactly what you need to keep on truckin' in this crazy world. So rather than sitting back and letting the world take me on a ride, I'm jumping in the driver's seat and taking the wheel. I'm adapting these ways to be more optimistic in my everyday life, because nobody likes a Negative Nancy, and because, hey, wouldn't it be nice to spend 2017 looking on the brighter side of things?
1. Surround Yourself With Positive People
According to Prevention, if you can't channel the optimism yourself, your best bet is surrounding yourself with optimistic people. Though that might sound like hell if you're struggling to look on the bright side of things, Prevention noted that people who are in relationships with positive people feel better about their relationships than those in relationships with negative people. Kind of a no brainer, right? Though optimism might not be quite contagious, if you're surrounded by people with a brighter worldview, your view's going to be looking brighter just by having them in it.
2. Be Grateful For The Little Things
"If you are not grateful for the good things in your life, you will never be satisfied," author David Mezzapelle told The Huffington Post. And Mezzapelle knows a thing or two about optimism, as the author of Contagious Optimism. According to Mezzapelle, taking inventory of the good stuff will help lift you up, and taking inventory of the bad stuff can serve you well too. Being thankful for each and every step makes you a more positive person in the long run, and is the foundation for true optimism.
3. When In Doubt, Just Try
Stand-up comedian Wali Collins told Real Simple that sometimes it's as easy as just giving things your best shot. "Anytime I undertake a new challenge —whether it’s learning to knit or solving a sudoku puzzle — I’m optimistic that I will ultimately succeed." Impressive right? Giving optimism a chance when you're feeling less than optimistic can open up the door for good things, and good attitudes to fall into your lap. Like they always say, give it the old college try before you write it off.
4. Practice Forgiveness
Though it might be easier said than done, Mezzapelle told The Huffington Post that practicing forgiveness is a prime opportunity to be more optimistic. Rather than hanging onto negative emotions and harboring ill will towards others, by practicing forgiveness, you're allowing not only someone else, but yourself, to move on and make peace with the past. This will undoubtedly open up happier and more optimistic doors for your future.
5. Reframe The Bad Stuff
Failure can be a gift,So the next time you're feeling down and out about something that's gone wrong, WebMd suggested reframing the negativity in a different light. Though you might not realize it at first, good things can come out of bad situations.
6. Expand Your Vocabulary
Words have a lot to do with how you react to every day situations, and whether you like it or not, your standard vocabularies of 'good' and 'fine' aren't doing you any favors. "Try to rid your vocabulary of always and never, since they usually don’t reflect reality," author Samantha Ettus told Real Simple. "And bump up any adjectives you use to their most positive form. When asked how you are, don’t respond, 'Fine.' Be excited and say, 'Great' or 'Wonderful.'" According to Ettus, making simple changes in your vocabulary can attract happier people and vibes into your life, and who doesn't want that?
7. Change Your Envy Into Energy
You've been there. You're scrolling through your Instagram feed looking at blogger after blogger after blogger with their perfect post and their perfect parties and their perfect pair of shoes and it's all too easy to fall into that pit of envy, am I right? "When we envy others, we are only hurting ourselves," Mezzapelle told The Huffington Post. Rather than wasting your energy on wishing and whining, Mezzapelle recommended channeling your energy into changing what you wish to change, and using other people's success as a catalyst to light a fire under your buns and get moving on your own. By changing the narrative, you're moving your negativity into positivity, and with that, your optimism will skyrocket.
8. Practice Self Care
"Try to really tune in to what you're thinking and feeling in the moment," psychology professor James Maddux told U.S. News. Being more aware of what makes you feel optimistic, and then putting those things into practice? That can help you channel your optimism in dark times. For instance, if you know that lighting a candle and drinking a big glass of water make you feel like you can do anything, then that's the kind of self care you should be engaging in to make yourself a more optimistic person.
9. Fake It 'Til You Make It
Some days, the optimism just isn't there. And you just need to fake it. Now, if you're miserable, I'm not telling you to put on a brave face every day and pretend everything's fine, because that's not the answer either. But on tough days, in order to get through the slog of life, sometimes you just need to put on a happy face and power through. And you'll be amazed how putting a smile on can automatically shift your optimism into high gear. According to Psychology Today, with some positive rhetoric and a willingness to chat yourself up, you can actually fake optimism till it becomes real.