The Scent Of Life: Are You An Optimist?

rainbow. Photo by Frans Van Heerden
Photo by Frans Van Heerden

“Even the darkest night will end, and the sun will rise.” ― Victor Hugo, Les Misérables.

First of all, let’s define optimism: for me, optimism is the perspective that makes life exciting and meaningful! 

And I dare say that optimism is a method. An approach that we choose to face the difficulties, trials and events that occur in our lives.

One of the main characteristics of optimism is undoubtedly a cheerful mood. But it doesn’t mean being always ready to go party; instead, it means keeping a smile even on tricky days and, above all, offering a smile to everyone we meet in our day.

Another characteristic is the ability to have positive thinking; let’s avoid being trapped in the spiralling negative thoughts and learn how to strengthen our ability to focus on the positive sides of reality. Through meditation or yoga, or nature walks, we can cultivate this positivity.

The last main characteristic that, in my opinion, defines optimism is the ability to express gratitude. Being grateful means appreciating and being happy for what we already have, even if it may seem small. Never underestimate what we have or are. And, most importantly, let this sense of gratitude become a real habit: every day and every moment we should be grateful, for having the sun to warm our skin, for a bed to sleep in, for a beautiful family that loves us, for a good grade our child got, for the food on our table, for a rainbow, for a plant that embellishes our apartment, and so on.

Who are the Optimists?

smile. Photo by Kat Jayne
Photo by Kat Jayne

Optimists manage to generate a deep sense of well-being, both in themselves and in others. Think of it as contagious joy, or an ability to always raise a smile, even on those grey, tired faces.

Optimistic people are those who choose optimism as their approach to life and daily exercise.

”Life has its dark side and its bright side; it’s up to us to choose the one we like best.” ─ Samuel Smiles.

Each person, in fact, consciously or unconsciously decides what the perspective with which to face life is. This choice depends on one’s personal and relational experiences and specific traits of one’s personality. Still, very often it also derives from the habit (or lack thereof) of reflection and self-analysis.

Attention! Being optimistic does not mean believing that life is a fairy tale and that in the end, the fairy will come to make everyone live happily ever after. No, being optimistic means choosing, every day, to focus on the positive aspects of things, problems or events we experience.

Ultimately, this means that we must always work on ourselves to look for our best self. It is a challenging exercise, of course, but extremely rewarding. Being pessimistic is much more comfortable! Just complain, be passive and conform to all those who act the same way. But this behaviour is hazardous because it leads you slowly to annihilation and even worse to victimhood.

5 Characteristics of the Optimists

We can list five predominant characteristics that identify optimistic people. Do this exercise: spend 5 minutes and think about yourself, and find out what you have and what you lack to become an optimistic person.

  1. Optimists are fighters.
    These people set goals from time to time and strive to achieve them. They are always achievable and realistic goals, a little above their current possibilities but not exaggerated; otherwise, the frustration for not achieving them becomes suffocating. The direction is always forward, one target at a time, each in their own pace: slow, very slow or fast. It is never a race with the others or against time, but it is a push always to move forward. The changes of direction are also welcome; the important thing is not to stop.
  2. Optimists do not see failures.
    These people certainly make mistakes, but they consider them as lessons learned, never as failures. By setting goals, it may happen, sooner or later, to make mistakes, but the perception of this mistake makes a huge difference. Mistakes, failures, detours are inevitable in the path of growth, personal or professional. The only failure is to fall and not get up, or stop believing in our goals, or stop taking actions.
  3. Optimists are honest with themselves.
    It means never making excuses or justifications to hide behind. These people are honest with themselves, recognize their mistakes and never ever blame others for their failings. It requires great courage and energy: analyze and improve oneself, without ever judging oneself severely. For this reason, optimists never compare themselves to others; constant comparison distorts our thoughts and poisons our hearts. Those who always make comparisons suffer from a lack of autonomy and independence. On the other hand, one must be aware of oneself, one’s goals and one’s path.
  4. Optimists accept others for what they are.
    These people know how to accept themselves, and therefore it is easy for them to accept others with their weaknesses and virtues. Within a community, or a workplace, or family, this means being able to appreciate and motivate the other people in our lives. Above all, it means not abandoning oneself in constant harsh and useless criticism. Those who have good self-esteem and self-awareness can exercise their guidance on others, without ever humiliating anyone, and this will eventually lead to a good connection and a good harmonization of the external environment.
  5. Optimists nourish themselves.
    This means knowing oneself, forgiving our mistakes and giving our successes the value they deserve, and above all never stopping to learn, to make changes, to nourish our spirit, always to take new actions to improve. Each of us is a work of art, and for this reason, we can never neglect ourselves. Optimists can motivate themselves, starting from strong values, intentions and beliefs. It is precisely this set of elements that drives us to proceed with determination and positivity on the path we have chosen. “Motivation” means “moving forward”.

Keep your face to the sunshine, and you cannot see a shadow”. Helen Keller

Developing optimism in our daily behaviour will bring about changes in our lives. Optimism is the fundamental pillar to fight against apathy and discouragement; the principal causes of the inconveniences of our daily life.

face painted in a rainbow. Photo by Sharon McCutcheon
Photo by Sharon McCutcheon

Using optimism as a way of living, we can also prepare ourselves to face the pessimistic environment that often surrounds us. Right now, we are experiencing a global and terrible health crisis that disrupts mechanisms, balances and even the lives of many people. It is essential, now more than ever, to be able to recognize and control the feelings aroused by the pessimistic sources around us, and this is one of the most challenging trials we face. We can succeed, if we rely on the principles described above, without fear and without panic, which has never helped humanity to progress.

So, I think it is crucial to maintain this approach every day, to overcome the crisis and even come out of it better. If we are sick or if someone we love is sick, let’s avoid despair but let’s follow these principles and face the days, one after the other, with positivity and awareness.

If we lost our jobs because of the economic recession, let’s not get down and let’s look around. An open mind can see opportunities and turn problems and falls into starting points to jump into something new. Just see what is happening: where the traditional economy is suffering and slowing down, the digital economy, on the other hand, is very prosperous and offers many opportunities.

Let’s think out of the boxes then. Let’s learn new skills and reinvent ourselves in the digital economy because we are stronger than we think; we need to make positive and optimistic choices. In this regard, I can recommend this series of workshops that help to understand what are our possibilities in the digital landscape and what programs we can follow to get started. Having a passive income or an online stream is much easier than it seems. Register here to learn more.

“Attitude is a choice. Happiness is a choice. Optimism is a choice. Kindness is a choice. Giving is a choice. Respect is a choice. Whatever choice you make makes you. Choose wisely.”
(Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart)