I always believed optimism was something only endlessly happy people had mastered; whereas, pessimism was the gift of the constantly miserable. After all, it's easy to have a happy outlook on the future when you are already happy.
But what if your state of happiness and, in fact, the outcome of your life all depend on you? If your state of happiness is a direct result of your state of mind, then who's to say we are not in control of how happy we choose to be on a daily basis?
It can be argued that if you think good things will happen, they will. But if you constantly expect the worst, that’s what you will get.
When we wake up in the morning, our attitude forms the catalyst for a sequence of events which determine the outcome of the rest of our day. Even the smallest shift in your emotions can be the difference between a good day and a bad one.
The problem is that, quite often, our emotions are ruled by the wrong things. Our minds become preoccupied by various issues, which seem like the center of our universe at the time, but in the large scheme of things, they can be quite unimportant.
If life is a puzzle, then remember every day is just one little piece. Even if one tiny puzzle piece doesn't make perfect sense on its own, we have to assume it's an important part of the bigger picture.
In failing that, when seeking your inner optimism, try to remember:
1. Everything happens for a reason.
Sometimes the reason is you are a moron and make terrible decisions. Other times, terrible things happen through no fault of your own. Although you can't see it at the time, these things tend to have a larger purpose.
Being broken up with might lead you to the best relationship of your life. Missing a promotion might send you knocking on a different door, a better one.
Even the awful mistakes that have no obvious silver lining end up acting like life lessons, which save us from making the same mistake at a more important point in our lives.
2. Life only gives you as much as you can handle.
A tough situation won't be the end of you. A terrible day, week or month won't break you.
Imagine that tough times are kind of like sprinting on a treadmill: You're exhausted and it would be so much easier to just give up, go home and lie down, but if you persevere and get to the end, you'll be proud you made it.
3. Happiness is a choice.
Find something to be happy about in the morning. Anything.
Be happy that your eyeliner looks symmetrical; be happy that your boss is in a morning meeting and you don't have to see him until after twelve. Be happy it's almost Friday or your squats are paying off.
There are always things that can bring us down if we let them -- things that aren't going quite right in our lives.
The difference between a happy person and a miserable person are the thoughts they choose to give room to in their minds.
4. Nothing is permanent.
Life is in a constant state of change. Sometimes, you might be trapped in a situation that you feel will last forever.
But even the least optimistic person logically knows that nothing stays the same. No one has ever lived a life of only highs or only lows. The point is to appreciate the good times when you have them and not to let the bad times rule your life.
Sometimes, various situations consume us. They take over our minds and we become convinced we won't be happy again. We can't understand why things never go our way or why we never get the things we truly want.
Often, a year down the line, you won't believe you were so upset about something which seems so trivial now.
Things change; people change; your needs and desires change. It's always good to remember that, especially when you're convinced your life is falling apart.
5. You always have the final say.
There are a hundred different possible outcomes in your life, but these outcomes are not random. You get the final say in how your life turns out. You choose your career, your friends, your partners and with whom you share your life.
We don't control everything, but we still control a hell of a lot. So stop blaming the "universe" or "bad luck" on how your life is turning out and take some control back.
If you're not happy about something, change it. If you genuinely can't change it, then trust that everything will be okay in the end.
I can't promise you that it'll look the same way you imagined, but believe it or not, it doesn't always have to.