Remember being carefree and optimistic during your childhood? Now, you are older and wiser and maybe even cynical. As we get older, life gets tough because we get more responsibilities or life throws experiences at us that shape us into pessimists.
Don’t worry, even if you are at the glass-half-empty end of the spectrum, there is still hope for you. It is never too late to change your thoughts. After all, your thoughts shape your reality.
But how can you stop being pessimistic? How to be more of a “glass-half-full” person?
If you want a positive reality, then your thoughts need to reflect the same.
Not everyone is a pessimist, sometimes we just have bad days. Here are a few telltale signs that will let you know if you are being pessimistic or not.
- You always think, “what if it doesn’t work out rather than what if it does?”
- You don’t get shocked when things go wrong.
- You easily give up.
- You expect to get bad news.
- Sometimes, you may be selfish.
- You find it difficult to forgive.
- You get annoyed by optimists.
- You engage in negative self-talk.
If all or some of these signs resonate strongly with you, then it may be that you are a pessimist. Don’t worry, you can still change this.
Below are ten ways you can stop being pessimistic. Do remember that these are not one time solutions. These are small habits you need to inculcate in your everyday life.
Once you start incorporating them, they will become inherent, and being more positive will become like breathing.
1. Replace Every Negative Thought With a Positive One
The next time you catch yourself thinking negatively or even just thinking some mind-boggling thoughts, stop there and replace that with a positive thought. It can be anything. Think of anything that makes you happy and adds value to your life.
This is essential because we have the power to rewire our brains even if many of us don’t realize it. When you constantly replace pessimism with optimism, you will rewire your brain to think more positively.
The result of this? Thinking positively will be second nature to you!
2. Make a Gratitude List
When you focus on things you have rather than what you lack, you create abundance in your life. Sometimes, we take the little things in life for granted and this is where pessimism comes from.
We don’t appreciate everything enough and this creates a negative attitude. Being optimistic is all about changing the lens through which you view the world.
Focus on what you have by making a gratitude list. Every day, write about five things you are thankful for in life. This will help you to keep things positive as you will focus on what you do have, and it’ll help stop you from being pessimistic.
3. Stop Seeing Setbacks as Failures
We tend to amplify setbacks in life by thinking that they are the end of the world. Everyone faces obstacles. They are part of the package deal that we call life. However, it is important to keep your perception clear.
See your setbacks for what they are. Life is a learning process and they are there to help you grow. Learn from them and do better next time.
When you feel like giving up altogether think about how you can learn from it? What is the bright side of it? How can you do things differently to get the outcome you need?
These are the questions you need to ask yourself so you can deal with setbacks in a much better way.
4. Do Good Things for Others
Your pessimistic mindset can only be replaced with positive thoughts. Do you know what will help you feel positive and stop being pessimistic? Being kind and doing good for other people.
If you think the world needs repair, then be the change to help repair it. Smile at someone to make their day, leave a good tip for your waiter, offer to hold groceries for an elderly, or compliment a stranger.
These little things count. They help others and they help you because your soul feels joy when you do good for others.
5. Find an Outlet to Release Negativity
You automatically channel your thoughts into actions. This is why if you have negative thoughts, you can channel it into doing something that releases that negative energy.
You can take up painting, drawing, kickboxing, or anything that brings you joy and helps release pent-up energy. The outlet you find is up to you!
6. Speak to Yourself the Way You Would Speak to Your Loved Ones
We can be our worst enemies and hinder our progress. Don’t ever speak about yourself negatively. Provide yourself the same compassion you give to someone else because you are worthy of it, too.
One great way to start speaking to yourself positively is by having positive affirmations around you. Find some things that resonate with you and keep them around the house as a reminder. This way, you will be able to easily feel more positive.
7. Don’t Label Yourself as a Pessimist
If you want to stop being pessimistic, then don’t label yourself as one. Don’t ever put yourself in a box.
When we label ourselves, we are putting a limitation on ourselves. The label then defines us and we do everything according to that definition. If you label yourself as a pessimist, then you will keep thinking and doing things in a way a pessimist would.
Remove this label and look beyond it. You are just a human who has both good days and bad days. All of us do. What you make of those days is completely up to you because you have the power even if you have forgotten it.
Get rid of the label and stop putting yourself in a box. You can be anything you want, even an optimist!
8. Have People Around You That Provide You With Positive Energy
Like attracts like. If you think of yourself as a pessimist and you have people around you that also think alike, then it is time to get rid of them. Yes, that may be hard, but it is something you need to do.
If you want to move forward in life, then you need to get rid of people and habits that don’t serve you. If the people around you add to the negativity, then find new people that are more positive.
The company you keep influences you, and when you surround yourself with positive people and optimists, then you will also start thinking that way. Let go of all the negative energy that doesn’t serve you and see how beautiful your life becomes.
9. Find Someone You Can Vent To
Sometimes, all we need is someone to listen to us and understand. It is important to have a person in your life that provides you with a source to share your thoughts. We can stop being pessimistic if we can find someone we can vent to.
You can vent, share your negative thoughts, and let it all out. This can be anyone. You can either vent to a close friend whom you trust or find a therapist.
The important thing is to have someone to listen to you. This will help you in taking off a burden. You will feel light and you will get a fresh perspective on things. This will give you the drive to do better and take charge of your life.
10. Include Movement in Your Life
Movement also gets rid of the energy that we have built up for long. A great way to get rid of negative energy is to work out. It can be as short as a fifteen-minute workout. You just need to move your body to release that energy.
Your tensions, negativity, pessimism, and stress will be released. Your mind will become more focused and driven. You will take your mind off from all the negative thoughts that don’t serve you.
Even if you don’t feel like working out, try going for a walk or run. Being out in the open in the fresh air can do wonders for your attitude. It will also help you feel more positive.
Our bodies store our emotions, so shed those negative emotions through the wonders of movement. It doesn’t matter what kind it is. All you need to do is move!
We all have an individual lens through which we look at the world. Sometimes, that lens can be distorted and no longer serve us. It is important to recognize these patterns and be serious about making a change in your life when you come to this realization.
These ten ways will help you move forward in life. They will help you break all negative patterns so you can stop being pessimistic and finally live a life full of positivity. Stop hindering your growth and progress.
Start making these changes now, and see how your life changes for the better. The first step is always the hardest, but it is one you need to take.
More Tips on How to Stop Being Pessimistic
We often hear people talk about the importance of living in the present and the different ways it will benefit us. It all sounds wonderful, especially the lower levels of stress and anxiety, but how exactly can we live in the moment when our mind is constantly worrying about the past or plans for the future?
In this article, we’ll discuss some of the benefits of living in the moment you may not be aware of. Then, we’ll look at some of the obstacles and why we worry. Finally, and most importantly, I’ll show you how to live in the moment and stop worrying using some simple practices that you can easily incorporate into your busy schedule.
The result: a happier and more fulfilling life.
Table of Contents
The Importance of Living in the Moment
“The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, or anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.” -Buddha
While it can be difficult to live in the moment, it has innumerable benefits.
Here are just a few that will enhance your life tremendously:
By reducing stress and anxiety, you avoid many of the associated health consequences, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and obesity. Studies have shown that being present can also improve psychological well-being.
Improve Your Relationships
Have you ever been with someone who is physically present, but mentally s/he’s a million miles away?
Being with unavailable people is a struggle, and building relationships with them extremely difficult.
How about being with someone who is fully present? We enjoy being with her/him because we can make a much deeper connection.
By living in the moment, you can be that person other people enjoy being with, and you make relationships much easier.
You have greater control over your mind, body, and emotions. Imagine how much better your life would be if it weren’t at the mercy of a racing mind and unpredictable emotions. You would certainly be more at peace, and much happier.
Why Do We Worry?
Before we answer this question, it’s important to distinguish between worry and concern.
When we are concerned about something, we are more likely dealing with a real problem with realistic solutions. Then, once we do whatever we can to address the problem, we’re willing to live with the outcome.
Worrying, on the other hand, involves unrealistic thinking. We may worry about a problem that doesn’t really exist, or dwell on all the bad things that can happen as a result. Then, we feel unable to deal with the outcome. Either way, we have difficulty dealing with uncertainty, which is a normal part of life.
Certainly, some of our problems may not have desirable outcomes, such as a serious health issue. Some problems may be beyond our control, such as civil unrest or economic downturn. In such cases, it can be hard to avoid worrying, but not impossible.
3 Steps to Start to Live in the Moment
Step 1: Overcome Worrying
In order to overcome worrying, we need to do two things:
Calm Your Mind
When you calm your mind, you are able to see more clearly.
The reason some problems seem so daunting is that our mind is racing so fast that we cannot see things as they truly are. Then, we make up a bunch of possible scenarios in our mind, most of which are unlikely to come true.
In addition to seeing more clearly, a calm mind will help us think more realistically. Unrealistic thinking is fueled by confusion and uncontrolled emotions. Calming your mind will reduce confusion and calm your emotions, allowing you to live in the present.
Focus on Solutions Instead of Problems
Some people tend to be more solution-oriented, and others more problem-oriented. Some of the factors that may determine this are gender, upbringing, and education.
People with more education tend to be problem-solvers. That is what their years of education train them to do. In addition, their jobs probably reinforce this way of thinking.
If you’re not problem-solving oriented, don’t worry. You can train yourself to worry less. We’ll discuss that soon.
Step 2: Identify Obstacles to Living in the Moment
In today’s busy world, it can be a challenge to live in the moment. The reasons revolve around how our mind works, as well as outside influences.
Many busy people have a racing mind that never seems to slow down. Their mind gets so agitated from too much sensory stimulation.
You see, anything that stimulates any of our five senses will trigger a thought, and that thought leads to another, and then another, and so on.
If you have a busy life, all your activities will overstimulate your mind and make it seemingly impossible to slow it down.
Unpleasant Situations and a Troublesome Past
None of us want to be in unpleasant situations, or remember those of the past. They can bring up painful emotions, which we don’t want to feel.
So how do most people cope with painful emotions?
By doing whatever we can to avoid them, we can take our mind to another place and time where things are more pleasant.
In other words, we avoid living in the present moment.
Some people resort to things that stimulate sensory pleasure, such as food, alcohol, or sex. Others will consume substances that dull their mind and keep them from thinking about unpleasant or stressful situations.
A Wandering Mind
From the moment we are born (likely sooner) until the time we die, our body and mind are active performing some function. Therefore, it’s natural for our mind to have some level of activity, whether conscious or unconscious.
Generally, a wandering mind is unproductive. One thought starts an endless chain of thoughts, and this process can go on until we need our mind to perform a specific function or get distracted with something else.
Now, there are times when a wandering mind can be productive, such as when creating works of art, or trying to find creative solutions to problems. In such cases, we need our mind to explore different possibilities.
Most of us are not fully aware of how our environment and social norms influence our thinking and behavior. People and institutions are constantly competing for our attention. The media draws our attention to the past, and advertising usually to the future.
Many people around us who dwell on the past or future try to draw us to their way of thinking. Even the whole concept of the American dream is geared toward the future. It tells us that if we acquire things like a good career, family, and house, then we’ll be happy.
Step 3: Practice Mindfulness
So how can we live in the moment in a world that is constantly trying to draw our attention to the past and future?
Before we get into concrete actions you can take, it’s important to understand what mindfulness is. You’ve probably heard the term before, but may not fully understand what it means.
The concept of mindfulness is actually quite simple. To be mindful is to live in the moment.
When you are mindful, your attention is focused on what is happening in the present moment, and you are fully in touch with reality.
You are aware of what is happening in your body, mind, emotions, and the world around you. This is different than thinking about these things. To develop greater understanding, you don’t have to think about them so much, but rather just observe them.
This may be counterintuitive to many people, especially intellectuals, because they’re so used to using logic to develop greater understanding. With mindfulness, we calm our mind and emotions so we can see clearer. Then, much of our understanding will come from simple observation. When we develop mindfulness, we literally expand our awareness.
To develop mindfulness, we need to train ourselves to observe things more objectively, that is, without our emotions or preconceived ideas influencing our views.
If you’re ready to live a better life, read on for some simple mindfulness practices that you can incorporate into your daily routine to help you live in the moment.
You don’t have to do all of them, but rather choose the ones that appeal to you and suit your lifestyle.
Mindfulness meditation is the mainstay of developing mindfulness and living in the moment. To practice mindfulness meditation, all you really have to do is sit quietly and follow your breathing. When your mind wanders off, just bring it back to your breath.
Notice how your lungs expand with each in-breath and contract with each out-breath. Let your breathing become relaxed and natural.
You don’t have to do it perfectly. The idea is to start spending time away from the constant sensory stimulation of all your activities, and just allow it to settle down naturally. Start with about 5 to 10 minutes per day and work your way up to about 20 minutes or longer.
This practice is highly effective, and can have both short-term and long-term benefits.
If you want to learn more about mindfulness meditation, take a look at this article:
While this may sound the same as mindfulness meditation, all you’re really doing is taking short breaks occasionally (10 to 15 seconds) to observe your breathing. Stop whatever you’re doing, and take a few mindful breaths, then resume your activity. That’s it.
You can do mindful breathing at any time of the day during your busy schedule. What it does is interrupt the acceleration of your mind. It is like taking your foot off the accelerator while driving. It’s a nice refreshing break you can take without anyone noticing.
Here’re some breathing exercises you can try to learn: 5 Breathing Exercises for Anxiety (Simple and Calm Anxiety Quickly)
Walking is an activity that you perform several times throughout the day. We often think we’re being productive by texting or calling someone while walking. But are we really?
Instead of getting on your cell phone or letting your mind wander off, why not use your walking to train yourself to live in the moment and focus on the task at hand?
Mindful walking is similar to mindful breathing, but instead of focusing on your breath, focus on your walking. Pay attention to each footstep. Also, notice the different motions of your arms, legs, and torso. When your mind wanders off, just bring your attention back to your walking.
You can even make a meditation out of walking. That is, go walking for a few minutes outside. Start by slowing down your pace. If you slow down your body, your mind will follow.
In addition to paying attention to your walking, notice the trees, sunshine, and critters. A mindful walk is enjoyable and can really help your mind settle down.
You can discover more benefits of walking in nature here.
Eating is an activity that most of us perform mindlessly. The reason is that it doesn’t require your attention to perform. Therefore, many of us try to multitask while we eat. We may talk on the phone, text, watch TV, or even hold a meeting.
The problem with not eating mindfully is that we don’t eat what our body and mind need to perform at an optimal level. We may eat unhealthy foods, or too much. This can lead to various health problems, especially as we get older.
Mindful eating has many health benefits, such as reduced food cravings, better digestion, and even weight loss.
So how do you eat mindfully? Start by slowing down, and avoid the temptation to distract yourself with another activity. Here are 3 different aspects of eating where you can practice mindfulness:
- Eating itself: Focus your attention on choosing a portion of food to insert into your mouth. Notice the smell, flavor, and texture as you chew it; then finally swallow it. As with following your breath during meditation, pay close attention to every aspect of eating.
- Choice of foods: Although you’ve already chosen your food before you have begun eating, you can still take the opportunity to contemplate your choices. Think about the nutrients your body needs to sustain itself.
- Contemplating the sources: Most of us don’t think about all the work it takes to provide us with the food we eat. While you’re eating, consider all the work by the farmer, shipping company, and the grocery store. These are real people who worked hard to provide you with the food necessary for your survival.
You can find more tips about mindful eating here: 7 Simple Steps to Mindful Eating
Choose an activity that you perform regularly, such as washing dishes. Focus all your attention on this activity, and resist the temptation to let your mind wander,. When it does, just bring your attention back to washing dishes.
Notice some of the specific movements or sensations of washing dishes, such as how the soapy water feels on your hands, the circular motion of scrubbing the dish, or the rinsing. You’d be surprised at how such a mundane activity can truly expand your awareness.
You can choose any activity you like, such as ironing, folding clothes, mowing the lawn, or showering. Over time, you will begin doing all these activities with greater mindfulness.
Practicing mindfulness is like regularly putting small amounts of change in a jar. They will all add up over time, and this will add up to greater peace and happiness, as well as get you closer to achieving your goals.
Remember, you don’t have to do the mindfulness practices perfectly to get the benefits. All you have to do is keep bringing your mind back to the present moment when it wanders off.
Practicing mindfulness may be a bit challenging in the beginning, but I can assure you it will get easier.
The benefits of living in the moment are well within your reach, no matter how much your mind is racing. If you stick with these mindfulness practices, you too will learn how to live in the moment and stop worrying. When you do, a whole new world will open up for you. This is what Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh calls the ultimate reality.