For analytical people, it’s easy to develop a pessimistic attitude. We review, study, and examine our circumstances to figure out the best course of action. We take pleasure in thinking and analyzing. However, if we are not careful, our amazing, analytical mind will encounter worried thoughts and fixate on problems and challenges. Once we solve one problem, another problem pops up. At first this can be fun because there is so much to think about! After a while we feel stressed because there is no end in sight. Pessimism and negative thinking set in.
When I was in college, I called myself a pessimist and even took pride in it! But as I got older, I noticed how it limited my experiences and stole my joy. One of the reasons I was trapped in pessimism is that I thought it was foolish to be a Pollyana (an excessively cheerful, optimistic person who did not analyze life). So I decided early on that I would NOT be a Pollyana. Instead, I would be the pessimist who shouted from streets, “The Emperor has NO clothes on,” while everyone else smiled and pretended they liked his outfit. So pessimism ruled me in college.
Suddenly at 28 years old, I realized that I did not need to be a pessimist to analyze the world or call out injustice. I then taught myself to stop entertaining all the interesting thoughts generated by my worried mind. I decided it was okay to focus on the positive and that positive thinking does NOT have to compromise analytical thinking.
For every positive thought or experience, I did not have to tell myself about the negative thought. I could just be at ease and calm in the present moment by intentionally designing and focusing on positive experiences in my life.
So I started on a journey to positivity and optimism. The tools and suggestions below will help even the most pessimistic, worrier refocus their attention on the positive and develop more optimistic thinking.
Build Positive Experiences
Do pleasant things that are possible NOW.
- Make a list of joyful experiences that you can have every day.
- Do at least one or two of these experiences MINDFULLY each day and record them in a journal.
Make a list of three things you are grateful for right NOW.
Be intentional and design experiences so that positive events occur more often.
- Make a list of positive experiences that you want to occur.
- List small steps toward these goals.
You might begin by getting out of your head and setting goals to…
ATTEND TO RELATIONSHIPS
- Repair old relationships.
- Reach out for new relationships.
- Work on current relationships.
VOLUNTEER or GET INVOLVED IN YOUR COMMUNITY
- Select an organization that you care about and volunteer one day per month to help out.
- Volunteer at your public library or local senior center.
- Go to your city building and ask how you can help out.
- If you are part of a religious organization, take a lead role on a project.
- Don’t forget to take action even in small ways! The pessimistic mind will tell you that everything I just wrote is a waste of time or will not work. Do not listen!
Be Mindful of Positive Experiences
- FOCUS attention on positive events that happen (even very small ones)!
- REFOCUS when your mind wanders to future worries, past regrets, current distractions and other thoughts while you PARTICIPATE mindfully in joyful experiences.
- Make a list of things that interrupt enjoyment for you and be prepared to actively TURN the MIND back onto the positive thoughts.
Be UN-Mindful of Worries
- DISTRACT yourself from:
- Thinking about when the positive experience WILL END.
- Thinking about whether or not you should be enjoying this positive experience.
- Thinking about how much more might be EXPECTED of you now.
Contact me. If you would like to schedule an appointment for coaching or counseling on how to increase positivity and optimism, please email me through my website.