By Jackie White
Who are these people who go around smiling all the time? I mean what are they so happy about? They obviously have a screw loose, right?
I used to work with a group of people who were infinitely cheerful and pleasant. I would see them in the hall and I would greet them by saying “hello, how are you?" I would always, and I mean always, be met with, “Great!” “Terrific!” “Super!” I remember even saying one time to one of them “Aren’t you ever just ok?” It was sort of grating on my last nerve that I worked in Pleasantville, USA! It’s funny for me to look back on that now because, truth be told, I am one of those irritating smiley people. I am an eternal optimist, a hopeful horizon kind of person. I have always been predisposed to be like that. My experience in Pleasantville actually was quite pleasant, but my initial flinching of the over-the-top co-workers also gave me a peek into the world of the not-so-chipper folk.
These not-so-chipper folks are interesting cats to me. They see a world vastly different from the one I see. If the perky peeps, like me, see the world through rose-colored glasses, these other cheerless friends see the world through a hazy windshield. They seem to focus on the negative. They label themselves as “realists” or maybe even admit to calling themselves “pessimists”. They don’t get too excited about life because something is bound to go wrong. They tend to slug through each day without much of a spring in their step and if they are being honest, they really can’t stand the highly irritating happy-go-lucky peeps.
It’s an interesting contrast and a bit of a wonder to me. I looked into what makes these fine friends tick and what I found was that many of the realists strongly protect their ground against the head-in-the-clouds optimists. They might even use the word foolish to describe the Positive Pollys. I get it, but this is where I have to put my chirpy little foot down. You’ve heard the saying "life is too short to drink cheap beer”, right? Well, life is also too short to pigeonhole yourself into a pessimistic demeanor or identity you have long held onto. Standing on my soapbox, I want to shout that you are short changing your possibilities in life when you keep your feet firmly planted in negativity. Listen, life is not a guarantee of endless happy times, rainbows, and puppies, it is, however, lived best when you can see the good in what’s in front of you. You see, my dear cynical friends, I know that looking for the good might feel silly and out of your comfort zone. That can be scary for anyone, but life begins outside your comfort zone! That’s where it gets good or, at the very least, interesting!
1. Phase One: Now, if you have read this far, I think there is hope for you to change your ways! If you have always been inclined to feel negative about the world around you, I am going to challenge you to begin changing your behaviors to favor a more optimistic outlook. Are you ready? Let’s begin with something simple, smiling. Yes, I said, smiling. I can already hear your inner critic saying that is just about the stupidest thing you have ever heard! That’s ok, shake it off and smile. Work it out by looking at yourself in the mirror and smiling, smiling at strangers passing by and if you are really uncomfortable with the whole smiling thing, start with smiling at kids. They do it naturally and will be filled with joy to see you smile! The science of smiling shows that smiling releases endorphins, other natural painkillers, and serotonin. These brain chemicals elevate your mood, relax your body and reduce physical pain. Smiling is a natural happy drug.
2.Phase Two: Phase two of becoming a reformed pessimist is to work on filling your mind with the good stuff of life. Take time for gratitude and appreciation, spend time with people who lift your spirits (no negative kvetching!), and focus on the beauty of life. When your mind wanders back to being cynical or you hear negative chatter in your brain, be aware and correct your focus to accept that perhaps an optimistic outlook can’t hurt and might help.This will begin to reset your mindset.
3. Phase Three: In this phase, you need to practice focusing on positivity. Where focus goes, energy flows! When you focus on the sunny side of things, suddenly the things you see more often are bright and hopeful! This takes practice, especially for a recovering pessimist, but being the eternal optimist that I am, I know you can do it!
This is exciting! I am happy for YOU! Soon you will begin to experience a life full of possibilities! Through retraining your mindset you will see that life has so much to offer you, and it won’t be long until the person reflected back at you in the mirror is one shiny happy person!
Jackie White has been writing about life and its ups and downs for many years. With a degree in Industrial Psychology and a life-long student of personal development she is intrigued by how each individual chooses to live their life. Jackie feels strongly that truly living your best life is imperative to attaining peace and fulfillment. SoulShine was borne of her desire to inspire and teach others to live their best life. This is her mission and her dream.