In all facets of life, your personal attitude plays an enormous role in your success. Bad and good outlooks become self-fulfilling prophecies — if you’re looking for something to go wrong, you’ll only see the negatives in a situation, which can drain your energy and motivation. Optimists, on the other hand, tend to find the positives more easily and stay motivated enough to reach their goals.
If you think pessimism and optimism are traits you’re born with, think again: Although it takes effort, positive thinking is something that can be learned and practiced. Members of the Forbes Coaches Council offered 19 habits, practices and behaviors that can help shift your outlook from negative to positive.
Members of Forbes Coaches Council discuss how to get in the habit of looking at the glass half full.
1. Become Aware Of Your Frame
It starts with the acknowledgment that perception is reality. The next step is to become aware of the frame you are using to form your perception. The third step is to check if your frame is engaging, empowering and motivating. If not, choose a frame that augments possibilities and provides an optimistic outlook. Finally, ask yourself what you can do that is in your control to support the new frame. –Valerio Pascotto, IGEOS
2. Stay Grateful
Identify three things you are most grateful for in life. Why are you most grateful for them? Ask yourself how your current outlook is hindering you from focusing on these three things. Develop a plan. Find three things you can do every day to help you shift your focus on the negative things in life to the things that matter the most. It’s powerful when you actually write them down and do it! –Amy Modglin, Modglin Leadership Solutions
3. Focus On What You Do Have, Not What You Don’t
To be more optimistic, learn to be grateful and focus on what you do have, not what you don’t have. A famous actor who was paralyzed had a positive outlook on life. When asked how he could be happy despite his physical limitations, he stated that he focused on what he did have (a loving family) rather than on what he didn’t have (use of his limbs). It is all a matter of perspective. –Rebecca Bosl,Dream Life Team
4. Visualize The Steps To Reach Your Goals
Set a personal goal and think of life as an escalator: Believe that this step is moving even when you don’t see the gears moving. Celebrating all you’ve done; this helps to visualize doing things differently. What would it look like to believe in your dream? Keep your dream in front of you with a screensaver or text reminder to think differently! Expand your network with optimists! –Meredith Moore Crosby,Leverette, Weekes & Company, Inc.
5. Get The Temper Tantrum Out Of Your System
I know a leader who gives her team 10 minutes to holler, wine, complain, moan and fully express a temper tantrum. Then once this is out of their system, the individuals come back together and look at the opportunity with a more optimistic outlook. To the level you are authentic in your challenging and complaining, the more likely you will be able to support and see what’s possible. –Dean Miles,Bridgepoint Coaching & Strategy Group
6. Notice What’s Going Well
I start each coaching session by asking my client, “What’s going well?” The more we focus on what’s working, the more we notice how much is working for us. Quick tip: Each morning for a week, list three things you’re looking forward to that day (versus what you “have to” do). You’ll quickly see positive results in your personal and professional life. –Gina Gomez,Gina Gomez, Business & Life Coach
7. Look At Your Accomplishments
Document your history of success. I mean actually write the list. Name all of things that have worked out well — your achievements, your best moments, little things and big things. Now ask yourself how you can duplicate them or add to them. Next, look at a current negative situation and ask how you could apply any past methods to new challenges. History can repeat itself! –Patrick Jinks,The Jinks Perspective
8. Practice Happiness
Happiness is a skill you learn. Tools include practicing gratitude, helping others, savoring past, positive moments, laughing at a funny movie, exercising, meditating, and many more. Add these to your routine and you will flourish. You’ll need many more positive moments than negative to thrive — our brain exaggerates negative emotions as a survival tool. –Sandi Leyva,Sandra L Leyva Inc.
9. Acknowledge And Deal With Burnout
It is difficult to be optimistic when experiencing burnout or exhaustion. Be honest with yourself and take a break so that you can evaluate it again once you’ve rested. Our perspective tends to be fresh when we step away from a challenge and come back to it with a vigor for solving it. –LaKisha Greenwade,Lucki Fit LLC
10. Do A ‘Shift’ Exercise
The fastest way to change your psychology is changing your physiology. Every time you feel pessimistic, do the 100-burpee challenge (a pushup with a jump and clap above your head). At the end, you will experience a shift in your mind due to the energy you are creating in your body. You will also feel proud of what you can do. –Raul Villacis,The Next Level Experience
11. Stop The Downward Spiral
One of my favorite coaching questions is, “If success were guaranteed, what would you do?” Too often, we’re afraid of the possible outcome, and we focus too much on the downside risk, instead of the upside potential. Flip yourself out of the downward spiral by giving yourself permission to believe that the outcome really is possible. Then, you can imagine the steps that will get you there. –Doy Charnsupharindr,Berkley Executive Coaching Institute
12. Choose Opportunity
Taking an optimistic view is a choice. Make an everyday commitment to making a conscious choice to look at the optimistic side. Author Dan Custersaid: “Today is a new day. This moment, this day, is as good as any moment in all eternity. I shall make of this day, each moment of this day, a heaven on earth. This is my day of opportunity.” So which will you choose? Opportunity or negativity? –Jenn Lofgren,Incito Consulting
13. Focus On The Small Things
Every day you wake up, someone else took their last breath. That alone is a reason to have a positive outlook on life. Get into the practice of writing down three things you are grateful daily. You’ll start to realize that you have more reasons to smile than to frown. Share those things with others and ask others to share with you. Being grateful for little leads to attracting much. –Maleeka T. Hollaway,The Official Maleeka Group, LLC
14. Think About Your Attitude’s Impact
Both optimism and pessimism reside in you and are highly contagious. Imagine yourself as an active carrier of one or the other. Then ask yourself these three questions: Which would you rather be recognized for passing on to others: hope or despair? Which would you prefer to be passed back to you? Who is most valued in life, the one who discourages others or encourages them? Now choose, and be. –Hayward Suggs,Commonquest Consulting
15. Give Your Pessimism A Name
Come up with two names, one that represents your tendencies to have a disempowering outlook of life and one that represents the more resourceful attitude you wish to adopt. For example, Mr. Negative versus Strong Director. Use the first name to quickly catch yourself when you fall into pessimism or other self-defeating patterns. Then ask, “How would a Strong Director look at this?” –Mehrdad Moayedzadeh,Life Is Important
16. Practice Self-Care
Start small. Each morning wake up and ask yourself, “What will make me happy today?” Whether a humble or ambitious thing, you will be honoring yourself and taking care of you. Self-care is not selfish. When you’ve taken care of yourself, you have energy available to help others, which builds on optimism. The more you practice this self-care thinking the happier and more optimistic you become. –Kelly Meerbott,You: Loud & Clear
17. Ask Different Questions
A pessimistic outlook is reinforced by the questions we ask about our circumstances, like, “Why me?” or “Why can’t I ever…?” First, stop asking why or why not — it’s rarely a useful question. Instead ask, “How can I think about this differently?” “How does this work to my advantage?” “What can I do now to make this better?” “What did I learn from this that helps me going forward?” –Debra Russell,Debra Russell Coaching, LLC
18. Picture And Compare the Worst Case Scenario
Comparing your current situation against a more catastrophic and/or depressing alternative can help you realize that things aren’t as bleak as imagined. In my experience, evaluating your life outlook using this “worst case scenario” filter can reduce your level of pessimism and place you on the road to flat-out optimism. –Virginia Franco,Virginia Franco Resumes
19. Evaluate Your Circle Of Influence
As humans, we are highly influenced by those we keep close to us. It is important to take inventory of those closely within your circle of influence to measure the energy they are exuding into your thoughts. Reevaluate the influencers that may be draining you from a steady flow of positive energy and limit your time with them. Give particular advantage to those individuals who seem to lift you up. –Rachel Lourdes Mestre,Rachel Mestre LLC
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