The birds are back. Nest building is underway across America. The early blooms dot the landscape with bright yellows and blues. The grass is that beautiful fresh green that only happens this time of year. Spring has arrived. People feel revitalized, ready to take on new tasks and are optimistic about the future.
Of course, times are different now. The nice weather prompts us to get out of our houses and have barbeques with friends and family, but many of us are still under stay-at-home orders. Our circumstances are at odds with our hearts, and it’s too easy to get caught up in the negative spiral of information and talk. What makes the difference? What makes the optimist optimistic?
Are those optimists just lucky to feel so up and energetic? Are they without challenges and personal loss? Are optimists born or, are they made? Do they remain upbeat in spite of adversity or, are they just getting a free ride and feeling no pain?
Optimists tell us their positive outlook is the result of conscious effort. It’s mind over matter. Optimists work at focusing on the positive. They are not immune to those “Henny Penny the sky is falling” feelings of fear and panic. They get them too. The difference is they actively work at looking for the positive and protecting their optimistic attitude.
When optimists feel panic, they reset their thinking by asking themselves, “Am I really okay right now, in this minute? Is there something I can do to improve the situation or is it out of my control? Do I need to ask for help or do I have the resources to deal with this myself?” If action is needed, they take that first tiny step to improve their situation. They own what they can do and let go of what they cannot improve, change, or fix.
Optimists live in the moment. We all hear about living in the moment, but some have no idea what that phrase means, much less how to go about doing it. Living in the moment means being mindful. Paying attention to where you are and what you are doing right now.
So, for example, the simple task of walking the dog with your mind racing. Thinking about all you need to do when the walk is over is a chore. When approached from a living in the moment perspective you will pay attention to the way the dog notices little changes in the familiar path. See what he sees, smell the fresh air, notice the squirrels and birds look at the sun and the clouds. The same walk becomes a joy. Optimists milk the joy from every task from washing the car to weeding the garden.
Optimists protect their positive attitude. Everyone knows people who just want to talk about the bad stuff. It’s a world of the service is never just right, the weather is always a little off, and the world is going to hell in a hand basket. These people could drag down an elephant.
Optimists don’t play that game. They don’t feed the negative by jumping in it themselves. They shut that negative talk down with something positive, or they just don’t spend as much time with those people.
Seeing the good in things, being positive and optimistic expands and becomes easier as the attitude is nurtured. When we are kind and up-beat and others mirror what we do, we all benefit as the reflections become infinite.