While being skeptical can be a healthy way to avoid getting taken advantage of, being pessimistic and always assuming the worst can have major negative consequences on your life. Seeing only the negative sides of situations can cause you to miss opportunities and fail to take action that would otherwise improve your quality of life. In fact, studies show that pessimists are more likely to develop chronic illnesses later on in life than optimists
If you assume that the world is against you because of past failures, or you often feel like Winnie the Pooh’s friend Eeyore with the little black rain cloud always above your head, understand that the past does not equal the future. Just because you’ve experienced pain or disappointment in the past it does not mean that what starts badly will end badly. Do not make a bad start turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy for a bad ending.
See yourself as a cause, not an effect. You don’t have to be a product or a victim of your circumstances. Stop thinking about what is happening to you and start thinking about what you can make happen. Use your past negative experiences to build character and make better decisions. Life involves taking many risks every day, and not all of them will end positively. That’s what defines risk. But the flip side is that some actions will lead to good results, and it’s generally better to have a mixed bag than to have nothing at all. Ideally, the good stuff will outweigh the bad, but you’ll never reach that point unless you put yourself out there and hope.
Use positive affirmations. Write down short statements that remind you of what you’re trying to change about the way you see the world: “Anything is possible.” “My circumstances do not create me, I create my circumstances.” “I always have a choice.” “I choose to live my positive side of life.”
Remember that life is short. When you feel pessimism clouding your judgment or you start to feel down about the future, remind yourself that every minute counts. Any time spent brooding guarantees nothing but less time to enjoy whatever life might have to offer. At its core, pessimism is impractical because it causes you to spend time dwelling on things that haven’t happened yet. It’s a waste of time, and time is a limited resource that you can’t afford to take for granted.
Be a balanced optimist. Nobody is suggesting that you become an oblivious Pollyanna, pretending that nothing bad can or ever will happen. Doing so can lead to poor decisions and invites people to take advantage of you. Instead, be a rational optimist who takes the good with the bad, in hopes of the good ultimately outweighing the bad, and with the understanding that being pessimistic about everything accomplishes nothing. Prepare for the worst but hope for the best.
Smile: Science suggests that when you smile, whether you’re happy or not, your mood is elevated. So smile all the time if you can! A smile makes you real.
Forgive: In a study of college students, an attitude of forgiveness contributed to better cardiovascular health. You could say forgiveness literally heals the heart. One of the thorniest and most difficult things we humans are ever called upon to do is to respond to evil with kindness, and to forgive the unforgivable. Study after study shows that one of the keys to longevity and good health is to develop a habit of gratitude and let go of past hurts.
Want to live a long, happy life? Forgive the unforgivable. It really is the kindest thing you can do for yourself. Your enemy may not deserve to be forgiven for all the pain and sadness and suffering purposefully inflicted on your life, but you deserve to be free of this evil. As Ann Landers often said, “Hate is like an acid. It damages the vessel in which it is stored, and destroys the vessel on which it is poured.”
As we begin another school year, let’s learn to look on the bright side of every situation and always be on the lookout for new and exciting lemonade recipes for all of life’s lemons.
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