Would you say you are an optimist or pessimist? Did you know that optimism or pessimism is not a personality trait? According to Martin Seligman, the Father of Positive Psychology, optimism and pessimism are habits of thinking; how we perceive our circumstances and our futures. Speaking from his experience as a self-proclaimed curmudgeon and his research, he explains that optimism can be learned. In fact, in his book Learned Optimism, he offers several strategies for how to become more optimistic.
Life inflicts the same setbacks and tragedies on the optimist as on the pessimist, but the optimist weathers them better.
How can we become more positive and optimistic. For one thing, we should not believe everything we think. For another thing, we can challenge our negative thoughts. Is what I am thinking true? Is it really true? What is another way to look at this?
Having said that, I suggest a simple yet remarkably effective strategy. Research has shown that the 3 good things exercise has led to people becoming more positive, sleeping better, increasing happiness and well being, improved health, providing relief from depression, and having a more optimistic outlook over all.
Spend a few minutes each night right before you go to bed to recall and write down three good things that happened today. These things can be anything that went well, both big (like you had a major work out) or small (like someone was kind to you). It is important to write down why that good thing happened to you and specifically you. Do this faithfully for two weeks, and you will discover a shift in the way you go through your day and the things that you choose to notice and amplify in the future.
I can tell you, having taught this exercise to both adults and children several times, the feed back is amazing. Children have reported feeling happier and more relaxed. Some adults have told me this exercised changed their entire family dynamic. One Mom of an ADHD youngster said that her son loves this exercise. In fact, he insisted the entire family do it together every night at dinner. Give it a try.