Have you ever come across someone who is so irritatingly optimistic that it hurts? Well, I have! And I’ve also been that person to other people quite a few times (and lived to hear about it–believe me). When it comes to positivity, it can be hard to find a balance. We don’t want to come off as that person who just HAS to look at the good in everything–even when things just really, ya know, suck. And we also don’t want to find ourselves becoming a pessimistic downer who no one wants to be around. So where is the middle ground?
In some reading I was doing earlier this week, I found a new phrase that jumped out at me: “realistic optimism.” This new phrase got me thinking about what it could mean to be realistically optimistic.
The definition of this phrase that I found to be most helpful was this, “Realistic optimism is the ability to balance out negative and positive things in situations, circumstances and people.” I believe this is the middle ground we are looking for. But knowing the definition is only one part of it. How do we achieve realistic optimism? After reading up on the topic, I have put together 5 effective ways we can start developing realistic optimism in our lives.
- Don’t Obsess over the Things That Go Wrong
This is one that I have a really hard time with. As soon as things go South, I almost immediately start obsessing over all of the negative effects that come with it. I start thinking about everyone else involved and what they must think. I start dwelling on the details and wishing things would have turned out different. But doing this doesn’t allow us to move past what went wrong–it keeps us there. This is why it is the first step in the process–we can’t move on from what we keep holding onto. Let go of the things that go wrong rather than obsessing over them.
- Find Some Humor in the Struggle
I can’t stress this one enough! If something negative has happened to you, and you can’t change what happened, why not get a good laugh out of it? Making light of a heavy situation can work wonders on how you feel. Now, I’m not talking about avoiding emotions by using humor instead–emotions and heavy things do have to be worked through to heal properly. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have a good laugh in between.
- Learn How to Take Care of Yourself When Things Do Go Wrong
When it comes to things going wrong, it can take a huge toll on us emotionally–especially if we had a lot riding on it. This is why self-care is especially important in these situations. Taking care of our emotional and physical needs can make a huge difference in our overall health and wellbeing. If you’re not sure what kind of things work best for you when it comes to taking care of yourself, experiment a little! Whatever ends up relaxing you the most is the way to go!
- Learn to Evaluate the Situation Honestly and with a Good Attitude
When things go wrong, it can be easy to focus solely on the negative–but most situations tend to have more positive in them than we even realize. While important to recognize what went wrong, it is equally important to focus on what went right. If we spend all of our time focusing on the negative, life can become draining really quickly. So when things do start to go south, try to fix your mind to think about the situation in realistic terms. What went right and what could have gone better? Thinking about it this way will help you to gain a realistic attitude of the situation rather than a pessimistic one or an overly optimistic one.
- Plan for the Worst, and Hope for the Best
When it comes to life, I haven’t found a more accurate rule than Murphey’s Law: “whatever can go wrong will go wrong.” This is why it’s important to plan for the worst. Without becoming overly pessimistic, try thinking about all of the different aspects of your plan and what things could end up going wrong. Then take that list and come up with solutions to fix each scenario if it happens. This will help you to come away feeling more confident and prepared to handle any situation that may come up. We can always hope that everything will go as planned, but it sure doesn’t hurt to have a backup plan just in case that doesn’t end up happening.
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