How can you cultivate optimism and bring joy to your life?

Human beings are hardwired for negativity and danger. That’s how we survived the stone ages and sabre toothed tigers and what nots. At the very beginning of time, our brain was hard wired to detect threats, drops in temperatures, possible famines and scarcity and impending death.

So from centuries, we notice first and we notice well when something isn’t right.

It is only after we had the weapons and housing in place, that the higher brain orders developed. The thinking system came into play that resulted in scientific progress, creativity, philosophy, math and the like. But the negativity bias is deep rooted in the brain.

For instance, that one colleague of yours who made a silly remark about your make up or another who casually said you were off your game today. Remember how you stewed on those comments for days. You were otherwise having a 98% great day, but if anybody asked, you’d say “you won’t believe I have this crazy colleague at work who thinks my business is her business”.

Then there are also those sunny sunshine kind of people. They are throbbing with life, can never look at the bad in the anything (even when it is right in the face) and are generally very optimistically hopeful about life!

Those are the two ends of the spectrum. But for the large majority of us, who have some days at both ends, we mostly find ourselves floating in the midst. Also because we are part of society, what we say or do has influence on people around us. So if we feel “meh”, it rubs off on people, if we feel “yayy”, that too rubs off on people.

But as individuals, can we train ourselves to look more for the positives than for the negatives?

I don’t profess to be an expert on this, in fact I am just a beginner. But I have a Gratitude Practice.

1. Pick a part of the day where you have absolute stillness. A part where you can go deep into what you are feeling and draw from it.

Then get your notebook and a pen and write down the three things that you are grateful for.

2. Over time, and when you feel like it, write a gratitude letter to somebody who’s impacted your life and you’ve never thanked them before in the right way.

3. And another thing. I find it very difficult too. Say grace before a meal. Before you start any and every meal, take a moment to say thanks to the universe.

Practicing gratitude, as opposed to only feeling it, goes a long way in instilling optimism and positivity in our lives. As your practice builds, you will know that you have far more to be thankful for than you ever realised.

And on days, when you can’t think of anything to be grateful for- keep it simple. You have food in your belly, you have a roof over your head, you have a book to lose yourself in and you have a warm bed waiting for you.

“We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude.” – Cynthia Ozick”

Practicing gratitude goes a long way in bringing optimism and joy in your life.

 

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