“Choose to be optimistic, it feels better.” Dalai Lama
Candles in the dark. Hope for the best. Looking on the bright side of things. Walking on the sunny side of the street. Whatever image and words we use to capture this quality, it still can seem elusive — hard to hang onto and cultivate.
Wise as he is, the Dalai Lama offers us help. “Choose to be optimistic,” he advises. He didn’t say “try” to be optimistic or “hope” to be optimistic. The word “choose” holds a world of meaning. It signals to us that optimism is a mindset, an attitude, a way of being that’s in our power to summon and sustain — and that’s exciting.
But how can we choose to be upbeat even when things aren’t going well? The answer’s simple says my friend and mentor Dr. Rob Gilbert:* We can act as if. “Actions create attitudes. Motions create emotions,” says Rob, borrowing a leaf from the pioneering psychologist William James, who once said, “The greatest discovery is that human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitude…. Act, look, feel successful, conduct yourself accordingly, and you will be amazed at the positive results.”
So, how do we act our way into feeling optimistic? A few ideas:
Light a candle: I have small candle holders scattered around my house near my desk and my favorite chair. Before I write, I light one to remind me that inspiration is always burning, always available to me, if I call on it.
Turn to inspiring words: Reading uplifting quotes or short passages can create a touchstone for our day. I like to write quotes that I love on small, colored index cards, so I can turn to them from time to time to energize me.
Listen to music: Many writers find that listening to certain music energizes and emboldens them: It may be classical or jazz, or be drawn from the time period they’re writing about.
Celebrate little victories: So often progress comes to us in little steps. Writing can feel overwhelming and revision can seem to be endless. But if we can allow ourselves a pat n the back when we come up with a fruitful idea or create a better sentence flow in a paragraph or even come up with a juicier, more evocative word or phrase — it uplifts us.
We can move: Movement can shake the cobwebs from our brains and loosen up a logjam.
If we’re stuck, instead of getting discouraged and falling into a downward spiral, if we take a walk outside or even just take a small mental health break, it can brighten our mood.
What techniques do you use to stay upbeat while you’re working? I’d love to hear your strategies for being a bright sider. Write on!
*Check out Rob’s wonderful Success Hotline: 973.743.4690
How can we not feel optimistic, energized, enthusiastic with Katinwritesdangerously in our in box every day! Always grateful for this,
Thank you so much — your kind words mean so much to me.
You really made my day, my week! It encourages me so much
to know that KWD is providing inspiration and uplift.
Success is in the doing. My favs- reading uplifting words I have a whole box of books, journals. Notecard specifically grouped together for their positive thoughts. Angel cards are in a bowl on our kitchen table. We pick onr a day like a spiritual vitamin and take it as our intention. Words like PLAY, DELIGHT, PATIENCE, PEACE, TRUST can keep me on an even keel. Living here in Tucson, I can go out every day and tilt my face up to the sun and gorgeous Tucson blue sky.
Thanks Karin for helping me pause and take stock of my daily perks.
Thanks so much for sharing all the wonderful ways in which
you uplift and inspire yourself on a daily basis! What I love
about your strategies is that they are so simple and doable.
Sometimes it’s these little steps we take to keep ourselves
motivated that make the biggest difference. Bravo, Ethel!