May 27, 2024

The Choice of Optimism: How Changing Your Mindset Can Transform Your Life

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Today, we explore how a simple shift in perspective can unlock a world of possibilities. Learn how to pivot from doom to opportunity with every challenge you face and see what happens when you choose optimism.

Would you believe me if I told you there is a lot of proof that the world is conspiring to make you happy?

Maybe you can’t see it because your happiness set point tends to be in the negative compared to others. You might blame it on genetics or your current circumstances. Perhaps you are plagued with financial woes or job insecurity; or you have inner turmoil like depression, anxiety, or other disorders that keep you from feeling happy.

If you feel helpless and hopeless because you don’t have anything to look forward to, and your relationships are in disarray, you certainly won’t buy what I’m selling – that the universe is conspiring in your favor.

As if that weren’t enough, the wars and conflicts that are prevalent in many parts of the world are proof of the existence of suffering and injustice. Not to mention the divisiveness in our own nation that puts us at odds with one another.

It’s all so overwhelming and our minds work on overdrive as we overthink our existence and brace for the worst.

There is no denying that bad things happen all around us – that is the reality of life. How do we stay optimistic amid it all? How do we shed the self-defeating belief system that convinces us that everything that happens is proof of your doomed existence.

The parable of two salesmen illustrates the point:

Two shoe salesmen were sent by a shoe company to a foreign country to assess the market for their product.

The first salesman arrived and immediately sent a message back to the company saying, “There is no potential here – nobody wears shoes.”

The second salesman arrived and sent a message back saying, “This is a fantastic opportunity – nobody wears shoes!”

This is the precise reason I started researching, writing, and speaking about optimism – I became so enamored by the notion that two different people could experience the same circumstance and have vastly different take-aways. It is so clear to me that our response to the challenges we face determines the outcome—it’s about our perspective and engagement.

We can choose to persist, adapt, or give up. The decision is ours, every single time. The operative word is that sentence is “choose.”

Viktor Frankl famously said, “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

Frankl is simply pointing out that we have the power of choice to determine how we translate data from the world and apply it to our lives. The salesman who saw no one wearing shoes was ready to give up while the other saw it as potential.

The universe is conspiring to make you happy. But not if you don’t allow it.

If you expect the worst, the worst seems to find you.

I’ll never find love.

I’ll never lose weight.

I’ll never get back on my feet.

I’ll never be happy.

I can’t <insert thing here>

You believe everything you think, so change the way you think. Your brain is not fixed and you are capable of rewiring it through a process of neuroplasticity. This means that you can reshape your thought patterns and, by extension, your happiness levels.

The good news is it’s not that complicated to change your mindset. Changing our brains really boils down to the words we say to ourselves. My daughter is a terrible runner. Well, that is the story she told herself. As a result, she has struggled achieving the highest percentile on the Air Force’s annual physical test. She believed she was a terrible runner, so she didn’t perform well. A few months ago, she decided to flip the narrative and started telling herself she was a great runner. A crazy thing happened when she shed the negative self-talk. She ran the fastest she’s ever run. Your mind lies to you and your body follows that narrative. Change your thoughts and you will change your life.

The hardest part is recognizing when you are being the salesman who sees no shoes as doom or when you tell yourself that everything and everyone is against you. This is what Frankl means when he points out that your freedom is in the place between stimulus and response. When you can become your own disrupter and recognize that your perspective is malleable, you can change it. If you can figure out how to do this, you will literally alter the course of your life.

You will be better at problem solving: Instead of viewing challenges and hardships as insurmountable obstacles, you will begin to see them as opportunities to learn and grow. The stimulus doesn’t change. It’s the same problem, but the doom and gloom version of you would complain and feel like the world is against you. The optimist version of you will disrupt that mindset and replace it with a “bring it on” mindset. Everything is figureoutable.

Your resilience will increase: When you begin to disrupt your victim-centric mindset, you begin change your brain. This malleable perspective builds resilience because you will come to understand that setbacks are inevitable. You can’t escape bad things from happening, but you can bounce back quicker when they do. And you will view setbacks as minor speedbumps while maintaining your focus on the end goal.

You will be able to regulate your emotions better: That space between something going wrong (stimulus) and how you react to it (response) allows you to control your emotions. The doom and gloom version of you would have lashed out and lost control. The evolved version of you pauses in these moments, breathes deeply, and formulates a measured response to that allows you to go into problem-solving mode.

Your relationships with others will improve: Learning to change your mindset will change all your relationships for the better because simply put, no one wants to be around a negative asshole. It’s exhausting. When you aren’t lashing out or being irrational towards others when problems arise, you will begin connecting more with the people around you. Your interactions will become more meaningful because you will stop attacking others when things go wrong. Things will still go wrong, but you will have learned to focus on the problem and not attack another person.

You will become unstoppable: When you develop a flexible mindset, you become more open to exploring new ideas and taking risks. You will not be afraid of failing or falling short because even if you do, you will persist and adapt instead of giving up.

Your health will improve: When you believe the universe is conspiring in your favor, you will have less stress. Less stress results in a stronger immune system. Your healthy mind will translate into a healthier body.

In this life, we often find exactly what we’re looking for. If we expect failure, disappointment often follows. If we anticipate joy and success, however, the doors to new opportunities tend to open. Changing your mindset isn’t just about feeling better—it’s about creating a reality that mirrors your highest aspirations. By choosing to adopt a positive perspective, you’re not merely hoping for a better future; you’re actively constructing one.

Remember, the power to change your life lies within the narrative you tell yourself. Just like the salesman who saw an untapped market where others saw absence, you can find potential and possibility in the face of challenges. Every thought you entertain is a brick in the foundation of your future. Choose your thoughts with care, and build a life filled with optimism and opportunity.

So, as you move forward, ask yourself: What version of reality do you want to live in? One that confirms your fears, or one that celebrates your potential? The choice is yours, and it’s one you make every moment of every day.

Life isn’t just happening to you; it’s responding to you. Make your response count.

Onward and upward my fellow disrupters.

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