Action is the antidote to despair.
How often do you wake up feeling pretty good, then come across some piece of news that really bothers you and stays with you all day? Or someone crosses your path – while you’re driving, at the store, or at work, and they cut you off or say something rude or do something negative, and it effects your mood for hours? The cumulative effect of these daily onslaughts can be a feeling of powerlessness and a decrease in hope.
Do you have dreams for yourself or your family? Are you hoping to accomplish something specific in the next few years? Are you searching to find your dream and aspiration? Or do you just feel resigned to inertia?
One of the key ingredients to achieving your goals – from the small ones, like adding a new fitness workout into your week – to the big ones, like writing a book or getting your MBA – is optimism.
Here’s what optimism isn’t – it isn’t certainty that things will happen exactly the way you want them to. It isn’t a guarantee of anything.
Optimism is more open, and internal – it’s confidence about the future. It’s confidence in your ability to handle whatever comes along. But how do we get that confidence, especially when we’re bombarded each day with reasons to feel hopeless and powerless?
We can cultivate optimism. We can take small actions each day to create it. No one can give us confidence, it’s something we have to create ourselves. Optimism is a muscle we can build like any other.
It’s simple – but it takes effort. You can start with one of the 5 ways listed below, then add in another when you feel you’ve got the first one down. You can start with any one of them – but do start with the one that calls to you the loudest.
- Influence your dreams with positive images.
The last thing that we think about at night has a big impact on our dreams – and our subconscious, and our subconscious runs the show in our life. Spend the last 15 minutes before you go to sleep thinking about, viewing, or reading something that makes you feel good, happy, or joyful. Actively look for these things if you ‘can’t think of anything.’ Switch the channel from despair/worry to enjoyment.
2. Take a social media/news break.
Cut off the supply of hopelessness, powerlessness, violence, competition, and drama. Whatever news you need to know about – like a current event – will find its way to you. Don’t worry that you’re missing out on anything – people will tell you. Do this as an experiment for 7 days, and see how you feel. Notice your dreams, thoughts, and feelings, and how much time you have to do other things. What new thoughts or ideas are coming in to fill in the space that all that news and media took up? Inspiration comes in when we make room for it.
3. Make an appointment with your passion.
Everyone has something that they’re passionate about –a hobby, a budding interest, a pastime. Any positive endeavor that you can be actively involved in like writing, reading, dance, sports, art, research, building something, etc. that makes you lose track of time and energizes you is worth doing. Active participation in anything is how you learn and build confidence. When it’s an activity that feeds your soul but isn’t related to career building or social pressure – all the better. You can learn and grow organically without the burden of having to monetize it. Schedule time in your week for this activity – put it in your calendar. It’s an appointment with you. Get your passion energy into a good flow, and it will radiate out into the rest of your life.
4. Engage with mystery.
It’s easy to get locked in to believing the versions of reality that we are fed by the media and our culture. Often, those versions are limiting to individuals and serve larger interests. A good way to develop confidence is to start engaging with your own mystery. Take some time to get internal and unlock the mysteries that exist inside you – your unique, individual link to the cosmos. Try meditation, prayer, guided visualizations – on your own or in some kind of group or class. Explore what works for you with trial and error. Approach it like a scientist exploring new terrain. Step on the path of self-discovery – of learning who and what you are, outside of the roles that have been assigned to you from family, work, or friends. Find out what you believe, and where those beliefs come from. Create new beliefs. The world is in you, as much as you are in the world. Root yourself in your unique inner self. That’s where genuine confidence comes from.
5. Turn on your gratitude meter.
Instead of creating a mental list of all the things that are wrong with the world and in your own life, start making a list of all the things that you like. Get out a piece of paper each morning or night, and take 15 minutes to generate some positive feedback for yourself. Get the positive vibes train going! Write down:
- Things you love – anything!
- Favorite memories
- Something in your day or week that made you smile or laugh
- Things that are going smoothly at this moment, small things and large
- Ideas you want to explore
- Places you enjoy
- Activities you enjoy doing
- People who have touched your life in some way
- What you like about your home, town/city, or the area where you live
- Moments of zen/om or bliss
When you’re having a rough moment or bad day, you can always refer to this list to help you remember that there are plenty of reasons to feel good and be optimistic. Connect the dots and see how things have worked out in your favor, how even the barriers or setbacks you’ve experienced have taught you something important.
There’s always something positive happening, and things we can do to stay empowered. Let’s focus on those. With Saturn in Sagittarius for the next year or so, we can all work on our hope and optimism. My last tip for cultivating optimism is: whatever you do, do it with love.
Let’s stay connected. Tell me how you’re doing – share your challenges, tips, and little victories. We can support each other along the way.
With joy + faith,
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