Six Secrets of The Modern Optimist: What You May Not Know ‘Bout Being Positive

snow2014It’s no secret that I am an optimist and have been so all of my life.

However, being a lifelong optimist has never prevented me from experiencing pain, fear, doubt, longing, vulnerability, loss, betrayal, grief, powerlessness, or rejection.

This isn’t a secret per se, but it may be a surprise to those who perceive optimism as whitewashing, a sweeping under the rug, or an avoidance of life’s unpleasantness.

And here is an irony that could be considered a quasi secret: it’s actually been the difficult situations (not the positive ones) that have taught me the most about what it really takes to be a true optimist.

Semi-secret number three? I do not automatically bounce out of bed in a sunny mood each morning or giggle with delight at every turn (though that would be great).

No, I often have to work at being optimistic.

Here are the six actual secrets I’ve discovered about optimism that you may not yet know:

1.) Contrary to popular assumption, optimism is the not the easier choice. Maintaining and/or regaining optimism can take real work. This work consists of sifting through pain, unpacking its lessons, taking responsibility when necessary (which is almost always), and then consciously choosing to not wallow. All of this requires time, effort, and discipline, none of which is easy, but as the optimist knows, it is well worth it.

2.) The Optimist is not driven by naiveté, ignorance, innocence, or denial.  A true optimist recognizes when things are completely and colossally effed up, but chooses to be optimistic in spite of the craziness swirling around them.

3.) The Optimist is a detective.  The optimist looks for clues in the chaos and search for meaning in the negative. Finding meaning reveals purpose, and purpose is a surefire freeway back to optimism. Purpose + meaning = positivity.

4.) Optimists are willing to ask themselves tough questions. How does this negative experience serve me? What purpose does it have? What responsibility can I take for it? Asking tough questions ensures that the optimist a conscious participant in their lives. Conscious participation = positivity and positivity = power.

5.) Optimists start from where they are — no matter where they are. Sure, they “look at the bright side,” “find the silver lining,” and “see the glass as half-full,” but this is because the optimist understands that no matter how hard things may be, they can find something to be grateful for, which is the baseline for positivity. Gratitude is the shovel the optimist uses to dig themselves out of every hole. 0 + gratitude = gratitude + optimism = 1 > 0.

6.) Optimism is a long game. Optimists understand that it takes patience to be positive, if not endurance. The idea that optimism is always locked and loaded is a myth. Optimism is sought after, fought for, and treated like royalty once it has arrived. Be prepared to stick with it in order to stick it out.

These secrets are not necessarily a cinch, but they do work. I’m positive. 😉

Do you consider yourself an optimist? What do you consider your secrets? Please share in the comments section. I would love to hear all about your approach to positivity and maintaining optimism.

And if you have questions about this post – don’t be shy! I respond to everyone.

Love,
Alix


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10 Responses to Six Secrets of The Modern Optimist: What You May Not Know ‘Bout Being Positive

  1. Angela Lee says:

    Thanks Alix for this optimistic piece on optimism. What it made me realize is that I am an optimist who for some reason is locked into the belief that I am a pessimist. No longer! I am coming out as an optimist, TODAY!

  2. Lilia Jeovanna Matteotti says:

    This is great Alix! The statement you mentioned about being a “conscious participant in our lives” really hit home for me. It is difficult at times to maintain that type of approach in life. I’d love to hear how what works for you : )

    • Alix says:

      Thanks so much for your comment, Jeovanna! I hear you re:the difficulty of maintaining conscious participation. My (adopted) approach is, in a nutshell, to look at everything that happens in one of a few ways: it’s a gift, a lesson (usually both because the lesson becomes a gift), an opportunity, or a directive (and that nothing is random or coincidence). Then life becomes a puzzle to solve for our own greatest good, which feels very positive, especially the more we practice it. Hope this is helpful! xo Alix 🙂

  3. iloveyouoften says:

    Optimist all the way. Being negative would have done me in during the difficult times that still pay visits.

  4. I love this. You are spot on that gratitude is what makes the difference between approaching something with negativity vs positivity. Gratitude is also what makes the difference between discontentment and contentment! Keep shining that bright light sister 🙂

  5. Love this Alix. And as another lifelong optimist, I share your work ethic! Kathrin

Thank you for reading + commenting!