I’m really trying to nail down my own story these days, because it is so intimately related to the message that I want to deliver. But when I see the picture like the one above, I know I’m exactly where I am supposed to be, following the path that is mine to walk. Every week I am reminded about how interconnected we are by text messages filled with real stories of vulnerability and strength that don’t show up on social media that inspire me to keep writing, talking, and coaching the optimists outlook in life. I often ask people the question:
“Optimist or pessimist?”
And although it’s not one of the choices, one of the popular answers is ‘realist’. Sometimes I think that’s because claiming to be an optimist has a naive quality to it, or seems too exposed, because when you are expecting the best, it’s easy to be taken advantage of. Although I believe that we are all born with different outlooks, I also know that our lens on life is a process of both nature and nurture.
The more I work to define what creates optimism in my life, the more I am convinced that a self professed realist is actually an optimist with a work ethic and some life experience to back it up.
So lately I’ve been analyzing my practice of how I have grown my optimism, especially through difficult life experiences. It’s in the little habits and brain games that I play with myself everyday. It’s knowing how to recognize feelings without sinking all the way into them and letting them rule the day, and the mood, and mastering the art of reframing the problem at hand into an opportunity. In short, we have to do the work to be able to keep our ‘rose colored glasses’ and this is what it looks like for me, pretty much every day.
O - Optimists OBSERVE what works. It’s not about following the path of least resistance or grinding inefficiently against the grain. Optimists create energy for positive outcomes by observing what works and what doesn’t and then following their instincts that stem from that. Deep connection, first with ourselves, and then in other relationships, are grounded in consistency and trust, and a real optimist will shoot to create a space like this in their life. When we are able to sit in this place, we find both an ease and an excitement that everything is possible.
P - Optimists find their PURPOSE. Without a purpose in this life, our actions feel aimless or floundering, and that certainly isn’t going to leave you feeling optimistic about your path. Take the time and give energy to what excites you…your interests are never random, they are what make you uniquely you and lead you to your purpose that brings more light to the world.
I - Optimists aim to INSPIRE. Smile, share your story, and take time to listen to someone else’s. When we do this, we both inspire other people with our real life humanness and gain insight and learn from others. Optimists are openminded and can inspire with both words and actions, strengths and struggles. I focus on real connection with real people and when it happens it’s the greatest feeling of flow.
M - Optimists are MINDFUL about their own lives and their surroundings. It’s not possible to stay optimistic if we don’t take the time to slow down, quiet the noise, and give ourselves the time to clear our minds. The demands of life can be high and the impact of decisions that we make are great. Meditation and solitude buoys my optimistic spirit and holds the anxiety and overwhelm at bay. This is a new and life changing habit that has brought focus to my path that I never knew was possible.
I - Optimists are INCLUSIVE. Optimists know there is something to learn from everyone and every experience regardless of strength, ability, challenge, or worldly status. This mindset makes the world an exciting and inviting place to lay out our own story and connect with the people that resonate with it. That doesn’t mean that everyone will, and we do have to be mindful about setting our boundaries, but it I try hard to connect and not shut anyone out.
S - Optimists know their own STRENGTH. This is a big one for me because self confidence and doubt are areas that I have worked on a lot over the past few years. We have to be able to harness and utilize our inner strength to be able to create healthy environments and relationships that keep life on an optimistic path. Yes, we can learn from the challenges and grow stronger but more than anything, when I make decisions based on my belief in myself, the people who surround me help me live out my story in the best and most supportive way. Which leads me to my next and, I believe, very important point.
T - Optimists have TRIBES that further support their mindset. The habits and beliefs of the people we are around most are contagious. Our tribes will celebrate with us when things are humming along, and be a source of support and encouragement when life gets difficult. When we have the confidence to be ourselves, and shed the tendencies that cause us to struggle, like people pleasing, being avoidant for fear of getting hurt, or other crutches and addictions that keep us from our best life, we live in alignment and connect with the people who are meant for us.
The gift of self awareness is always worth the work put in, even if the process is scary at first. I see it in the simples moments, like when I’m locked in a battle with my twelve year old over going to practice, or how much video game time he should get that day, and the best thing he can throw back at me is
“Well, that’s just because you are optimistic.”
Yes, I am. Even if it seems unrelated and off topic in that moment, my message is getting through. And it’s real optimism that has taken a lot of work to solidify to make it my go to platform. We only get to do this life once, so why not make it great…no matter what challenges get thrown in the path, I believe in my ability to adapt, find gratitude, and the silver lining. The world needs real optimists, may we be them, find them, raise them, and connect with them every chance we get.
P.S. - Next Sunday, December 8, just in time for my birthday on December 10, I will publish my 100th blog at The Optimists Journal. Will you help me share that blog 100 times? Comment below and let me know you will help me by sharing my blog on your social media platforms and by forwarding the TOJ email to someone who doesn’t already receive it. If you would include a little story of our connection, big or small, that would make it really special. Thank you for reading and sharing your stories, these connections mean the world to me.