Why are some people able to see the cup ½ full instead of ½ empty? What allows them to be optimistic about the future even when there is little evidence of success in the moment? Research shows that optimistic people have the highest incidents of success and happiness. Yet, too many of us are not feeling as successful or happy as we imagine we could. How do we cultivate this essential perspective for well being?
It begins with our beliefs about ourselves and the world, and what we believe is true about them both. When we feel that we have little to no control over the circumstances we find ourselves in, life can seem ‘against us’. Few of us learned how to create self-loving boundaries that build confidence in our ability to choose what is best for us, regardless of what others say, do, or feel. As a result, we continue to expect that we won’t get what we want. So, we keep trying to change ourselves, other people, and/or circumstances to feel like we are in control. When we learn ways to always honor our own inner choices instead of feeling like a victim of circumstance, we begin to realize that life is always ‘for us’ (even if it doesn’t look like it in the moment). We can increase our optimism when we remember that what is happening is always ‘for us’.
This realization changes our perspective about what is happening our lives. Is life happening to us, or are we creating it? Quantum physics asserts that we are the ones creating our experiences based on where we focus our attention and energy. Do you focus your thoughts and emotions on what you want? Or do you find yourself focused on what you don’t want? Assuming my circumstances are ‘against me’ is focusing on what I don’t want. The antidote is to challenge and change that limiting belief by asking myself, “what if this is for me?”. How can your current circumstances be ‘for you’? When we ask this question inside, the answer tends to be around how it helps us to grow, expand, or heal. When I remember that EVERYTHING in my life is aimed at helping me to do those three things, I can begin to relax and trust that what is best for me is flowing to me. I begin to remember events in the past that looked like they were against me, yet in hindsight and a broader perspective, they really were for me. I only need to keep my eyes and heart on what I really want, and then I can see how circumstances are moving me closer to what I most desire – even if I can’t see the physical evidence yet.
Another way we limit our optimism is by forgetting there is a lag time between our inner desire and when it manifests in our reality. What that means is that most of what we are experiencing in each moment was created by what we focused on in the past. The ‘evidence’ of our past thinking is what we are currently experiencing. To experience something differently in the future, we have to change our inner focus about the future in the present moment as if it has already occurred. When we make this inner shift, we stop looking to the immediate circumstances to validate our inner perspective and hold steady to what we really want to experience going forward. I can focus on how hard it is going to be to lose 10 pounds, or I can focus on how much lighter and freer I’ll feel when it is gone – it’s up to me to decide where to focus. My inner focus creates my inner experience, and ultimately the outer circumstances in my life.
When I remember that I am creating my experience by where I focus my attention, my sense of control and confidence to make good choices for myself seem unlimited. My optimism soars when I remember that everything is happening for me even if it doesn’t make any ‘sense’ in the moment. As life unfolds, I get to choose what feels best to me as each circumstance is presented to me to increase my success and happiness. A truly optimistic approach to life.
How will you become an ‘optimist’ today?
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