See the Brighter Side

“When one door of happiness closes, another opens, but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one that has been opened for us.” -Helen Keller

Do you have an optimistic outlook on life or do you tend to be more of a pessimist? Whether this difference in temperament is an inborn or a learned trait is up for debate, but it is possible to become more optimistic if we want to. Optimistic people tend to feel and describe themselves as happier because they are able to see the brighter, happier side of the things that happen. Like Helen Keller’s quote – optimists are able to see the opened door with ease. Pessimists can find the open door but it takes a little more work. The big question is “How can I be certain to see the “open door”?”

The following ideas will help to see the brighter side of events and increase happiness:

  • Try not to jump to conclusions when something “bad” happens. It’s ok to feel whatever you feel but remember to look for potential positive outcomes. Ask yourself, “Is there anything good that can come from this?”
  • Create a gratitude list – ask yourself, “What do I have in my life to be grateful for?” Some examples can be family or friends who are supportive, good health, a good job that supports your family, a warm house during winter months…..Keep this list in a prominent place and refer to it when you feel down.
  • When something upsetting happens don’t spend long periods of time dwelling on it. Ask yourself “Is there anything I can do to change this?” and if the answer is no then work on acceptance. Get moving, don’t just sit around. Take a walk, listen to music and consider dancing to get your body moving and to improve your mood.
  • When you feel sad try smiling. This may sound a little silly but it is really hard to stay in a bad mood when you are smiling. Give it a try and see what happens.

If you find that you are pessimistic too frequently and you can’t seem to turn it around on your own, seek help from others – either a close, trusted friend or even a local professional who is trained to assist in improving mood.