With the coming of 2022, the veil of the pandemic that had enveloped the past two years was beginning to unravel. But just as the world seemed to be returning to a much kinder place, war in ukraine Newspaper headlines.
The bad news, behind this struggle, abounds. How then to remain optimistic without necessarily ignoring reality?
Several studies highlight the benefits of optimism.
This attitude to life makes us live longer (between 11% and 15% longer than the least optimistic, according to a Boston Medical School study), better (lower chances of disease for those who know how to appreciate the good side of life), have better relationships and earn higher salaries.
But can those who tend to see the glass half empty do anything to change their view?
According to Eric Kim, co-director of research published in the American Journal of Epidemiology in 2016, paired studies “suggest that up to 25% of optimism may be genetic or genetic, meaning that 75% is modifiable.”
In other words, the room to maneuver is large. So, if you want to clear the heavy cloud hanging over your head, the following recommendations can help, according to experts.
1. Acknowledge your problem
They say that with any problem, the first step is to realize it.
“Many pessimists are strongly attached to the idea that their beliefs that things will go wrong are true and have a perception that these bad thoughts are permanent, generalized and personal,” explains BBC Mundo Alison Funk, PhD, psychologist at the American Institute for Cognitive Therapy.
Experts say there is plenty of room for maneuver to change the way we put ourselves in life – Image: Getty Images/BBC
“That’s why I would say the first step is to develop a little curiosity about this pattern of thinking and see if we tend to use phrases like ‘This always happens to me, it’s my fault, or I’ll always feel this way,’ every time something bad happens.”
Funk says we should be willing to question this way of thinking and ask ourselves whether circumstances beyond our control caused something bad to happen to us.
One of the exercises that many psychologists recommend is expressing our gratitude for the good things we have.
“Be aware of the positive things that are in your life and make you feel more hopeful that there will be positive things in the future,” Funk says.
She suggests writing regularly “five things we’re grateful for, or texting a friend if you want a higher level of accountability.”
This simple exercise can help us develop a more positive mental attitude.
Write down the everyday things in your life, no matter how small, that you are grateful for – Image: Getty Images / BBC
Laura Rojas Marco, a Spanish psychologist and author of several books on personal development, says that in addition to working on the topic with her patients during the pandemic, she’s been practicing it by herself every night after work.
“At the end of the day, after working 15 hours with people who suffer a lot, due to my mental and emotional health, I jotted down the positive things that happened that day in my notebook, to conclude the day with something positive,” she told BBC World.
3. Make way for disappointment
One important aspect of being what they call a “realistic optimist” is realizing that some bad things are going to happen to you in life.
It’s not about thinking that every day is going to be perfect, it’s about knowing that bad things will happen in life too, but it’s a good idea to “tell ourselves that we will be able to deal with what happens to us, rather than worrying about bad things that could happen”, As Funk says.
4. Plan exciting activities and take care of yourself
“It would be great to have a vacation planned into our schedule, but it can also be little things that make us feel good,” Funk says.
The psychiatrist suggests: “Plan a coffee date with a friend you haven’t seen in a long time. Plan outdoors.”
It is also important to implement strategies that are helpful for regulating mood in general. “We know that a positive mood is closely associated with things like getting enough sleep, eating well, avoiding harmful substances, and treating physical ailments,” Funk says.
“Working with your body chemistry helps you have a more optimistic view of life.”
5. Visualize how things might work
Rojas Marko explains that visualization is a great ally. But she does remember that it must be a realistic visualization.
“If you imagine in the future something that you want to happen, something that you want and imagine, your anticipatory attitude will activate in the brain,” he says.
“If you visualize something you want to happen in the future, something you want and imagine, it will activate your proactive attitude in your mind,” says Rojas Marco. – Image: Getty Images/BBC
“Then we’ll go in that direction, because it’s easier to start walking toward something that you feel is achievable, than to walk toward something that isn’t,” the psychologist says, adding that this is a technique that’s also used a lot in therapy clinics to treat phobias.
Funk agrees on the usefulness of fantasies, which should aim to “imagine yourself living according to your own values.”
“Because when people imagine themselves as their ideal selves, they use it to punish themselves for not meeting those standards,” she explains.
Visualizations can also help us set goals. And “working toward achievable goals can give us a sense of accomplishment, and that will make us feel more optimistic.”
6. Discuss with your inner voice
When you fall into a dark hole where you see everything is going well, says Martin Seligman, an American psychologist and one of the founders of positive psychology, the first thing to do is recognize the voice that makes negative comments, and argue with it as if it were the person who just wants That makes us feel bad.
“Often that inner voice is your fearful self, your insecure self, your fearful self, or your lazy self, and sometimes laziness takes us back too,” Rojas Marco says.
Rojas Marco says it is important to establish an inner dialogue with this critical voice and the way we talk to ourselves – Image: Getty Images/BBC
That’s why it’s important to establish an inner dialogue with that critical voice and the way we talk to ourselves, he says.
Argue this inner voice by making corresponding points. This dialogue is what “will affect the engine that puts us in action”, so it is essential to discuss and do positive reinforcement.
7. Know what’s going on in the world that you can’t control
While there is a lot we can do for ourselves, the truth is that sometimes it’s hard not to lose optimism about what’s going on in the world — and it’s completely out of our control.
Environmental crisis, armed conflict, killing of women and many other problems are a source of anguish and despair for many.
Funk says it’s important to learn what’s going on in the world. “It’s incredibly human and appropriate to have negative feelings,” says the psychologist.
But she explains that it’s also important to remember that “we don’t contribute to any situation by feeling drained by what’s going on in the world and choosing to let it affect the way we present ourselves to the world.”
“Sometimes we feel helpless and uncertain about what is to come from a global situation, but the only thing we can control is our behavior.”
“If we are in control of our emotional expressions, the way we treat others, and the way we present ourselves to the world according to our values, this is, in my opinion, the best antidote,” Funk concludes.
Rojas-Marco recognizes it as a challenge, but says that in moments of great crisis what helps us is to focus on current and short-term goals to maintain optimism. “It is easier to take a step forward than to think of a thousand kilometres,” he says.
Many people have gone to the border to provide shelter in their homes for Ukrainian refugees (Image: Getty Images/BBC)
We must also learn how to save the positive from bad situations, for example, in the midst of war in ukraineHundreds of people went to the Ukrainian border – and some from Spain, who traveled thousands of kilometers, says Rojas Marco, to offer their homeland to the refugees who fled their country.
“It gives hope. And when someone watches someone else’s generous work, they tend to repeat it. This ends up forming a human chain of generosity, of compassion, which is what we see now.”
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