Ask anyone to divulge their secret to happiness and they’ll usually say that optimism is key. It’s a notion we can’t help but agree with. Every day, we call on our positive outlook to focus on opportunities within the obstacles, deal with change, and learn from our mistakes whether we’re getting feedback on a new t-shirt graphic or spilling coffee a little too close to our keyboards. The latter, we wouldn’t wish on anyone.
Does optimism guarantee success in all things? Not exactly. But we will argue that looking for the good is the essential ingredient for finding it. That said, optimism is a little like sourdough bread: if you’re starting from scratch, you’ll need a bit of a spark to get the reaction started.
Call it thankfulness, appreciation, or that warm and fuzzy sensation in your chest, gratitude is the ability to take stock of all the good surrounding you, whether it’s the view outside, hot showers, or cold, clean water to drink. No matter whether the things you’re thankful for are big, small, or a combination of the two, they make for a kind of thinking that helps you concentrate on all that you have instead of what you’re lacking. Don’t believe it? Try writing down five things you’re feeling especially thankful for. Think about people, experiences, and things in your life that are good, right and working well. Go for depth over breadth, be specific, and get personal. And if you start to catch yourself smiling, well. We told you so.
Recent studies have found that counting your blessings on a regular basis not only leads to a greater overall sense of personal satisfaction, it can also have some pretty amazing physical and emotional benefits like increased self-esteem, expanded capacity for forgiveness, and even a greater likelihood to exercise. That’s right, exercise.
From arguments with loved ones to the worst of all hair days, life provides a constant stream of circumstances that we have to face whether we like it or not. Through it all, gratitude’s a way to take nothing for granted, even when choosing optimism seems more difficult than the alternative. With gratitude, we’re able to shine a spotlight on all the good while putting all that we’re up against into a healthy perspective. And with enough practice, it’s the thing that bolsters us with the courage to meet even the biggest challenges with open arms. Something to be thankful for, don’t you think?