Optimism may seem elusive in our world today. You’ve heard the metaphor of looking at the glass half empty or half full. Well, far too often we see it as half empty. However, there is something about the holidays that makes many of us willingly extend extra effort to focus outward and increase cheer.
Oxford Dictionaries defines optimism as: “Hopefulness and confidence about the future or the success of something.”.
You can open any social media app on your phone during the holidays and see gratitude posts or exciting pictures of holiday activities. At this time of the year, most people are drawn to optimism, but why does it matter?
Not only does optimism statistically increase your psychical and emotional health, it also increases creativity and influence as well. You are more likely to generate new and better ideas when not burdened by pessimism. Your optimism is contagious, multiplying its influence and effect on those around you as a result.
Many of us find it far easier to see something wrong with a situation as opposed to seeking out the positive. Nonetheless, even negative events also have a positive side. Every adverse experience does contain a lesson to be learned. Find the lesson, and you inherently create a future action plan giving you options for what to do next time. Making a decision to look for what’s positive in a situation will help you enjoy life more, which will even carry into to your work day. The more you consciously redirect your thinking to find the positive, the sooner your perspective frames the positive on its own.
Although the charm of the holidays can bring out the best in some people, it can also be a source of pain for others. Rudeness always has a story. People are seldom unkind “just because.”. When someone reacts angrily, there is always something that internally triggers his or her response. Keeping this in mind and taking a step back from assuming personal insult as opposed to reacting immediately to the anger will help you maintain dignity, respond with discretion, mitigate regret, and, quite possibly, diffuse a “no win” situation.
This “most wonderful time of the year” is also the “most busy time of the year.”. Recognize that circumstances are out of your control. Other people are out of your control. Outcomes may, quite well, be out of your control. Do not waste your time fretting over that which you have no control. Instead, use your energy to improve what you can control: yourself, your own self-improvement, and your response to any given situation. Be purposeful with your time. Dedicate some off time to a hobby or reading a good book. Maximize your time with family and friends. Engage. Invite conversation. Focus on that which affirms you and others. Make the most of your time, using it well and concerning yourself with what you do have the ability to change.
Procrastination creates panic. When the to-do lists pile up and time runs short, the natural reaction is to revert to survival mode. Optimism is difficult in the midst of panic. Conversely, well-planned, well-executed productivity leads to higher self-esteem and natural optimism. Maintaining a margin that allows managing unexpected interruptions, rising to any occasion, and effectively staying “one step ahead” innately energizes and enhances outlook.
The ironic aspect of doing something for someone expecting nothing is return is that you, more often than not, become the greater beneficiary. The result of serving is an optimistic shift in perspective. Serving others takes the focus off of what they may not, or cannot, do for you and transfers the focus to what you can do for others. Kindness and gifts of service you proactively choose empower you and extend joy to those to whom you give. The giving, rather than response, becomes the much greater gift to the giver.
During this holiday season, practice optimism. You will find yourself happier, more compelling, and more influential. Others cannot help but catch positivity. Remember to stop and notice the good in this busy season. There is no better way to remember those good things in your life than by choosing an optimistic frame of mind.