How to Be More Optimistic
Never mind those “glass half-full” maxims (which, let’s be honest, can have the opposite effect). To help direct your feet to the sunny side of the street, you need some smart strategies. Five experts, including a clown and an executive coach, offer their brightest ideas.
3. Be Ridiculous
Introducing absurdity into even the most humorless situation can push pessimistic thoughts aside. When I go into the hospital
room of a sick child, I’m a total goofball: I wear footie pajamas and Easter-bunny teeth while singing “Old MacDonald.” Within
minutes, my wacky behavior transforms a worry-filled room into a place of hopeful thinking.
Karen McCarty is the associate creative director of community programs for the Big Apple Circus, in New York City. She has been working as the clown Doctor Gingersnaps at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center for 25 years.
4. Just Try
Anytime I undertake a new challenge—whether it’s learning to knit or solving a sudoku puzzle—I’m optimistic that I will ultimately
succeed. And the more I try different things, the more confident I am that I can overcome obstacles. It’s made me a stronger
person and better in my comedy routines. When I’m onstage, I often ask someone in the audience a question. I’m never sure
what the person is going to say, but I tell myself that I can deal with whatever comes. And then I find a way to mold the
response into something funny.
Wali Collins is a stand-up comedian based in New York City and the author of The Y’NEVANO Book of Encouragements ($10, amazon.com).
5. Amp Up Your Language
The words we use—both with others and in our thoughts—help shape our perception of the world. So try to rid your vocabulary
of always and never, since they usually don’t reflect reality. And bump up any adjectives you use to their most positive form. When asked how
you are, don’t respond, “Fine.” Be excited and say, “Great” or “Wonderful.” Also, when talking about your daily life, choose
action verbs. Say, “I gained three new clients today,” for example, instead of stating something passively, like “My business
is doing well.” Speaking more enthusiastically attracts sanguine people, and more opportunities will naturally come your way,
brightening your outlook on life.
Samantha Ettus, based in Los Angeles, is the writer of The Experts’ Guide series of books. She also writes a personal-branding blog for ForbesWoman called Personahood.