Do you try to think positively but fall into the trap of “stinking thinking” when life doesn’t go your way? Information on the power of positive thinking is plentiful, but we rarely receive practical applications about how one can become an optimistic person. In order to obtain and remain optimistic, one needs to keep positive thoughts alive, even when life gets hard.
The Optimist Outlook
In the 1880’s, philosopher William James proposed a radical notion that it is backwards to think one’s emotions drive his or her physical state (i.e. happiness makes one smile). James proposed the concept that smiling all by itself could actually make a person happy. Therefore, one’s physical state drives his or her emotions.
This means you can become and remain an optimistic person. All you need to do is align your behavior with your desired attitude.
Learned Optimism – Tools for Australians
A training plan is necessary if you want to achieve an “instinctive optimism.” While emotions and feelings can be inconsistent, you have the ability to behave in a way that encourages an optimistic attitude.
The first and easiest way to secure a positive outlook is to pay close attention to your health. In practice, this means:
- Eat properly
- Exercise regularly
- Get enough sleep
Another tip is to adopt the posture of the optimist. Stand and sit up straight. Muscles prepped for action are optimistic muscles. The positive thinking posture extends to your facial muscles as well. Smile more.
Also, seek a positive thinking environment. The music and light you surround yourself with can drive your emotional state. In addition, learning to be an optimist means adopting related habits by associating with other optimists. Mimicking their behaviour can automatically give you their attitude as well.
A Training Plan
If you want to change your behavior, following a plan is important. William James had a rule for adopting new habits; he said it takes about three months to gain a new habit or lose an old one.
Do you believe you can become an optimistic person in just three months?
If so, start with thinking positively about all the things you want to do. Be sure to include a clear goal in mind. The virtuous cycle goes like this:
Positive behaviours lead to positive thoughts, which lead to positive behaviours which then inspire more positive thoughts and an optimistic outlook.
Your entire life can change by tweaking the way you behave. Resist the temptation that says you must “feel good” in order to act happy. In any case, put on your positive attitude, see the glass of life as half full, and let your cheer be infectious. The happiness you receive from this will encourage you to continue the positive cycle. Optimistic people change the world.
Edmond Otis is a motivator, communicator, and coach. He draws on his career and life skills to come up with memorable conversation topics that speak to a variety of people throughout Australia, New Zealand and the US. If you like his theory on Strengthening Positive Thinking with Behavior, consider Edmond for your next speaking event or purposeful group gathering.