Having optimism means expecting good things to happen. Optimism can give people many advantages, including the following:
- Better mental, physical, and emotional health
- Greater motivation, persistence, and achievement
- Less stress
- Longer lifespan
Though some research suggests genetics and other environmental variables can impact a person’s optimism level, optimism can also be learned and practiced. In Amie’s Story from My Life is Worth Living, 16-year-old suicide survivor Amie uses mindfulness skills such as gratitude and journaling to cope with her negative thoughts. Below are some ideas to help your family have more optimism.
- Consciously think happy thoughts. If you find yourself having a negative thought, stop and reframe (e.g., “I hate the rain. It ruined my day.” could become “Because it rained, we were able to cuddle inside and watch a movie together.”). However this doesn’t mean you should ignore negative feelings. Being optimistic means acknowledging those feelings and choosing to make something productive out of them. The more you choose to look on the bright side, the easier and more automatic it will be for you to be optimistic.
- Surround yourself with optimism. Negativity and optimism are both contagious. Be sure your family spnds time with people who are optimistic. Also be aware of how media (social platforms, the news, etc.) makes you feel. If it makes you feel sad or pessimistic, try to limit usage.
- Start a journal. Each day, write down a few things you’re grateful for, any accomplishments you did that day, and what talents or skills you used to reach those accomplishments.
- Be mindful. Practice mindfulness to focus on the present instead of reliving the past or worrying too much about the future. Try to find something to look forward to each day.
This blog was written by Hope Squad. Hope Squad student members are trained to be aware of their peers and watch for warning signs. They learn to show empathy to their peers, listen without judgment, and reduce stigma regarding help-seeking and mental illness. Hope Squads are now in over 1,200 schools across 35 states and Canada. During the seventeen years since Timpview High School started a Hope Squad, the school has not lost a student to suicide. And as Hope Squad grows, we will continue to spread hope and save more lives. Learn more by visiting https://hopesquad.com/.