“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”
~ Victor Frankl
What is “optimism”?
Most people think it’s just about being happy, or pretending that things are not so bad, when actually they are.
Like, if you lose your job, the expectation of someone with a positive mindset is to just smile and wake up the next day as if this is what life is supposed to be. Or if a relationship ends, you’re supposed to keep up with your routine as if nothing significant happened.
Another aspect of this misunderstanding is the belief that positivity equates to passivity – that it means accepting every situation without trying to change it.
But true positivity is about maintaining hope and a positive outlook while being realistically aware of the challenges and potential obstacles.
A key aspect of this mindset is viewing challenges not merely as obstacles but as opportunities for learning and growth. People with this outlook believe that difficult experiences have something to teach them.
A lost job could lead to the discovery of a passion that turns into a career. A broken relationship might make room for self-discovery and deeper connections in the future.
Positivity is supposed to encourage us to be proactive, to seek solutions, and to grow from our experiences.
It’s easier said than done. It takes practice and awareness. And the best way I’ve found to deal is — creating a ‘worry window,’ clubbed with a problem-solving ritual.
I allocate a specific time each day, say 15 minutes, to focus on my worries or challenges. During this ‘worry window’, I allow myself to fully delve into my concerns, write them down, or think through possible solutions. Outside of this time, whenever worries arise, I remind myself to postpone them until the next scheduled worry window. This practice helps in managing anxiety and keeps worries from overwhelming your day.
And then to make progress towards solving the problem, I use a problem-solving ritual. For example, every time I face a challenge, I block half an hour after breakfast and sit down with a notebook. I write down the problem in clear terms. Then, I brainstorm possible solutions or steps I can take, no matter how small. Finally, I choose one actionable step that I can implement immediately. This ritual turns vague worries into concrete actions.
Let’s break up with the ‘smile and bear it’ approach and welcome a more genuine, proactive form of positivity into our lives.