Learning how to think and talk to ourselves is a key factor in teaching our children optimism. If we can develop the habit of looking at the good things that have happened to us, or the new things that we have learned, we have knowledge that we can reflect on when the going gets tough. Recently I posted a TED talk on smiling. Learning to think about the good things that happen to us and taking a moment to be thankful and smile will help us and our family to be optimistic.
This is like a muscle though in that if we want that ability in the difficult times, we must practice it and work it in the good times. The practice and habit of being thankful for what we have, focusing on the good both in ourselves and others, will create a good mood for ourselves. When we smile at another person it has an affect on them and on us. Our mood will pick up and we can naturally be more optimistic.
If it seems that we are in a cycle of being in a bad mood, depressed, or negative about many things, how can we break that cycle? I would suggest that we think about things in our life where we succeeded in a situation that seemed impossible. Use that as a starting point where we can see we have had success and can be sure of our ability to duplicate that success. Look for the silver – lining. If we make a mistake, what can we learn from it and where can we apply our new knowledge? What are some other possible outcomes? What is the good that we can be focused on? My third suggestion is to adopt the attitude of gratitude. Pause and be mindful of the ‘little things’ that we may have taken for granted in the past. Being thankful and taking the moment to express that gratitude either to another or to ourselves, will build on itself into not just gratitude but also optimism.