10 Ways to Become a More Optimistic Person
This post was sponsored by Frost Bank. All opinions are my own. Thanks for supporting the brands that support HTC.
I don’t think anyone would categorize me as an optimistic person growing up. Not that I was negative or pessimistic – but I just wasn’t one of those people who immediately was categorized in the optimism category. I was most often put in the dramatic and angsty category, to be honest. I guess that’s why my parents had a bit of a hard time taking the complaints about my leg pain I was experiencing in my sophomore year of high school seriously. I mean, I can’t blame them. I remember being so frustrated that they weren’t taking me seriously one night that I shouted at my mother: “How do you know I don’t have bone cancer or something!” I said that 100% for dramatic flair – I totally admit it.
But then, a month later, we found ourselves in a small white room at the Boston Children’s Hospital on a Tuesday, sitting across from a kind-faced blonde woman who gently explained to us that yes, I did have bone cancer. Osteosarcoma, to be specific. Just like that, I went about worrying if Jordan Ward was going to ask me to be his girlfriend to worrying about my life. I started my year-long chemo regimen that Friday and my life completely and totally changed.
It was my mom’s mission to make sure we faced my treatment with as positive as an attitude as possible and I am so grateful that I had that year to learn how to truly be more optimistic. A lot of people ask me how we were able to keep such a positive attitude while facing such an uncertain and terrifying time and to be honest, we weren’t always optimistic. I definitely had days when I cried or was sad or felt so angry about the hand of cards that was handed to me. But, I always managed to pull myself out of that rut and it was because I didn’t want to let cancer take any more from me than it already had. Cancer took my hair, it took my left leg, it took my immune system, it took my high range of hearing, and it took many of my friends on my hospital floor. I refused to let it take away my attitude or my happiness because those were the few things left that I had left that I could control. So, every day, my mom and I would repeat the same few mantras and encourage everyone who was supporting us to “smile!” because “no matter what happens, life continues to be beautiful.”
Even though I wouldn’t wish cancer on my worst enemy, I am so grateful for the lessons it taught me and continues to teach me, even 13 years later. I’ve been able to keep an optimistic attitude during hard times I’ve gone through over the last few years and really have felt my life continue to improve as I’ve continually worked to strengthen my optimistic lifestyle and adapt more strategies to help me keep it going. I’m so excited to be teaming up with Frost Bank today because they have launched their own Opt for Optimism campaign. Their research shows that choosing optimism can be a catalyst to better physical, emotional and even financial health!
Today, I’m sharing 10 of my personal strategies I use to help me keep a positive and optimistic attitude, in this constantly changing and sometimes scary world. But first – a definition of optimism by best-selling author, Michelle Gielan to kick the list off. “Optimism as the expectation of good things to happen and the belief that behavior matters, especially in the face of challenges.”
10 Ways to become a more Optimistic Person
Get Outside – When life gets super overwhelming or I find myself feeling weighed down with negative feelings, I immediately put on my shoes and get myself outside. Whether it’s going for a walk in the neighborhood or taking a drive/walk through the stunning mountain canyons of Utah, I have learned that fresh air and sunshine is essential to keeping an optimistic attitude. I remember the days I was trapped inside the hospital getting chemo and just wanting to be outside for just an hour. I swore to myself I would never take the ability to be outside when I want to for granted, and now when I am outside, it helps put everything into perspective for me. No matter what I’m going through, I am outside in the beautiful world that I once worried I wouldn’t get to experience, and that is something to be happy about.
Practice Gratitude – I once heard that the direct opposite of fear is gratitude and I couldn’t agree with that more. Every night, Dustin and I get ready for bed and we list out 10 things we are grateful for that happened that day. This means we can’t say the same generic things every day, like “I’m grateful for my house and I’m grateful for my job.” We have to really dig deep and be specific to the things that happened that day. Usually, my list includes something like: “I’m grateful for the thoughtful text Taylor sent me” or “I’m grateful that Teddy didn’t get too muddy in the back yard today.” Regardless, specifically listing out the things we are grateful for every day has helped us both look for the wonderful things that happen in our daily lives so that we are ready to share that night. And let me tell you, it’s a lot easier to feel happy when you have a grateful outlook on your day, instead of looking for things to feel sad or angry about!
Surround Yourself With People Who Have Optimistic Attitudes – It’s been said that your attitude is the combination of the 5 people you are closest to in your life. I remember when I was living with my 5 roommates in college and how, after a few months, I realized that I was adopting similar attitudes towards certain things (like university policies or friendship drama) because my roommates had those attitudes. A couple of years ago, I found myself surrounded by some people who were consistently negative. It wasn’t necessarily super obvious, but I realized that their sentences included more “I can’ts” then “I cans” and I knew I needed to put some significant distance between them and myself so that I could have a better attitude. I knew I needed more positive people in my life so that I could keep my vibe high and now have the most amazing girl gang who cheer me on and support me!
Unplug every day – Social media is one of the best ways to stay connected to people who are important to you, but it can also be filled with negativity and news that makes your heart hurt. While it’s important to be aware of what’s going on in the world, I’ve noticed a significant increase in my ability to be positive and optimistic when I take time to unplug every day. It’s important to cut out or limit the amount of negativity you have in your life and social media can be an easy way for it to slip in!
Develop a hobby that brings you joy – Sometimes you just need to do something that makes you happy and allows you to unplug from life’s worries for a few minutes. If you’ve been following me on Instagram, you’ll know that this year I decided to take watercolor painting classes! It’s been so great for my attitude and mental health to have a hobby that I can use to escape from life and tap into a creative side of myself!
Fill your life with uplifting resources – I am really big into self-improvement resources and I have filled my life with as many uplifting books, podcasts, and classes as I can. Instead of listening to music when I’m driving to work, I listen to a self-improvement book or a podcast (current favorites are You are a Badass by Jen Sincero and Awesome with Alison!)
Focus on the things you can control – Like I mentioned above, I have learned that the key to an optimistic attitude is to focus on the things I can control, like my attitude! Life happens and the only thing we can control at times is our reaction and attitude.
Create the mindset that life’s challenges are temporary – While there are definitely big challenges that can take a lot of time to work through, having the mindset that the challenge is temporary can be very freeing and allow you to focus on the future and be hopeful for happier times around the corner. Plus, when you believe that life’s challenges are temporary, it’s easier to want to take steps to improve your situation instead of wallow in self-pity. Something that has helped me personally is to be grateful for all challenges that can be fixed with money. Even if money is tight or not readily available, I’ve learned that any problem that can be fixed with money is a problem I would happily take over an issue that can’t be fixed with money (like a cancer diagnosis.)
Expect the Unexpected – This is a mindset shift that I’m currently working on, but it’s been really helpful in keeping a positive attitude. When you expect the unexpected, you can be prepared to recover and bounce back from whatever hard thing the unexpected thing was! An example Frost Bank uses in its optimism research brief to work through unexpected setbacks is to learn from your mistakes. Don’t beat yourself up if you are experiencing or if you have experienced a setback, like a financial one. Instead, focus on what you can do differently going forward. This could be anything from not signing up for new credit card offers to start a “rainy day” fund.
Join an Optimistic Challenge – Frost Bank is dedicated to not only help people have an optimistic outlook on their finances but also to have an optimistic outlook on life in general. They believe that optimism is a powerful tool that turns challenges into opportunities and can be a catalyst for better physical, emotional and financial health. So, they’ve started a 30 Day Optimism challenge to help people get into more optimistic mindsets and habits. You can learn more about the challenge and take it here!
I challenge you to join me, and Frost Bank, to Opt for Optimisim and to choose one of these tips to practice in your life today! Let me know which one you are working on below!