When we are asked the age old question of “Is the glass half-empty or half-full?”, our response is commonly considered to be a window into how we view the world around us, and indicates whether we’re a pessimist or an optimist.
Those who see the glass as half-full, are considered to be more optimistic, more patient, tend to be more competitive, and playful than glass half-empty thinkers.
While on the other hand, those who see the glass as half-empty are more likely to be laid-back, introverted, and tend to be more serious, proud and sentimental than their half-full counterparts.
In a recent survey, 2,000 Americans answered the question “Is the glass half-full or half-empty?” While it might be worth noting, the results of the poll heavily favored the half-full optimists – 58 percent to 16 percent. 26 percent remained undecided skewing the results and making them inconclusive. In the end, the most interesting data to come from the survey wasn’t determining whether people tended to lean more optimistic or pessimistic, but that an even larger subset of the respondents said they were actively attempting to be more positive!
Nearly half of all respondents in this poll reported that they were taking steps in their daily lives to be more positive!
According to Buddha, “life is a creation of the mind.” And William Shakespeare said, “there is nothing good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”
Humans are subjective creatures and don’t tend to see things objectively. We take all of our biases under consideration, and view things through a filter. It’s our perspective that influences everything.
That means that much like the respondents in the survey and much like what Shakespeare said, we can make changes that can alter our minds and our approach, by changing our filter. Helping to shape us into slightly better versions of ourselves.
How, then, can we gain a greater appreciation for what we have in our lives and improve our enjoyment of whatever life experiences do we have? We can start by practicing these 7 steps.
Don’t filter out the positives for the negative.
Many of us who are ‘not optimists’ will magnify the negative aspects of a situation and filter out the positives.
How about an example? Maybe you had a great day at work, completed all of your tasks on time and were complimented by your boss or a co-worker! You’re feeling great. But, by late that evening, you forget all about the days victories, when the complications of dinner, dishes and the rest of the households problems come flooding in.
Try and let the positive aspects of good situations linger, don’t rush to exchange or replace them for negative thoughts so easily. Cherish your victories, don’t downplay them.
Take time to appreciate the good things in your life.
A great way to boost your mood is to take time to appreciate the good that is going on in your life. No matter what else is going on, and no matter how big or small.
Take time throughout your day to notice and think on good things in your life. It could be as simple as items like a cup of coffee, some music, a friend’s voice on the phone. Or expand past items, into situations and qualities that you are thankful for: your current setting, recent events, or your personal qualities. You are alive today. You ate food today (maybe it was delicious), You took that awesome vacation last year, you’re a hard worker no matter the circumstance, you’re smart, clever, or your cousin, friend or sibling just had a healthy baby!
We need to choose to shine a light on the things we love and accentuate the positives that are already present in our lives. We need to allow ourselves to enjoy the positive emotions and feel the sensations that accompany these thoughts.
Take time to smile and laugh.
We also need to give ourselves permission to smile and laugh. As the saying goes, “laughter is the best medicine.” Especially during difficult times. Choosing to seek out humor in everyday happenings, can play a big part in helping us change our perspective, even if it is just for a short time.
Actively seek out good things.
When we’re drained by the negative aspects of life, it’s easy for our perspective to take a turn to gloomy rather quickly. We need to purposely seek out things that are wonderful, positive and encouraging. Just like the saying, “You are what you eat”, our mind set and perspectives are nourished by what we allow in, what we feed on.
When actively seeking good things we should always choose positive entertainment, positive vibes and positive relationships.
If you are feeling depressed, sad, angry or confrontational don’t choose entertainment to feed those negativities. Music can be a powerful outlet. Build a playlist that exudes positive energy, read a good book that encourages you or puts you in a good mood. Watch a movie or TV show that does the same. Try to find inspiration your entertainment.
Surround yourself with the visual perception of positivity, by keep pictures of your loved ones and good memories in the space around you. Display a picture that will motivate you to reach your goal. Visualizing good times will help you through rough times, or at least put a smile on your face.
When conversing with others, focus on good, positive conversations. Try asking people to expound further on positive experiences or stories they bring up in conversation, and remember to share yours in kind. Choose to associate with positive, supportive people and start distancing ourselves from consistently negative people where we can, we can expect helpful advice and feedback. Negative people can increase our stress levels and even make us doubt your ability to manage stress in healthy ways.
Practice positive thinking can improve your health. The positive thinking that usually comes with optimism is a key part of effective stress management. And effective stress management is associated with many health benefits, such as decreased episodes of depression, better psychological and physical well-being, better coping skills and even increased life span!
What steps can we take to practice positive thinking?
Stop catastrophizing. Are you the type of person who automatically anticipates the worst? A person who thinks that just because the drive-through or coffee shop got your order wrong, the rest of your day will automatically be a disaster. If the thoughts that run through your head are mostly negative, then your outlook on life is more than likely negative. Periodically throughout the day, try to stop and evaluate what you’re thinking. If you find that your thoughts are mainly negative, try to find a way to put a positive spin on them.You can learn to turn negative thinking into positive thinking, it just takes time and practice to create a new habit. Try identifying areas to change. Think negatively about work? Your weekday commute? A relationship? You can start small by focusing on one area to approach in a more positive way.
Try practicing positive self-talk. Apply one simple rule: Don’t say anything to yourself that you wouldn’t say out loud to anyone else. Treat yourself with gentle and encouraging words. If a negative thought enters your mind, evaluate it rationally, then respond with affirmations of what is good about you.
Realize that difficult things will pass. To help handle negative events, remember, “This isn’t permanent.” or “This too shall pass.” Realizing a bad situation is only temporary and doesn’t define your entire world is a common trait among people who are optimistic. The opposite view is a common thread among people who suffer from depression, so it’s best if we can avoid dwelling on the negative aspects of a situation for too long. Think back to the last time something nasty happened to you. Does it still dominate your thoughts today? Unless it involved severe grief, it probably doesn’t. Most of the time we forget about a difficult event within a few weeks. But while it was happening, while it was fresh it may have felt world-shaking. Realizing that today’s troubles will quickly fade when we try to stay optimistic, will help us to be able to handle everyday stress in a more constructive way.
Even though as human individuals we have a natural baseline that may predispose us to a level of optimism or pessimism, a glass half-full or half-empty mindset, research has shown that we can still benefit from increasing our level of optimism! Even those who are predisposed to a level of negativity, can take small steps to condition their minds to a more positive way of thinking.
By choosing to focus on things that make our lives brighter, consuming less dark, critical entertainment, and by surrounding ourselves with positive people, and positive thoughts, we can distance ourselves from negativity. We can all learn to become more optimistic about the world, the people and the situations around us, no matter how we see the glass.