A counselor's perspective of optimism


March is National Optimism Month. And, just as spring is trying to make its way through our last winter snow, and restrictions are lessening, we look to ground ourselves in a more hopeful space.

When we speak of optimism, people often think of only seeing the good and not acknowledging the bad. Realistic optimism is looking to land north of neutral and always allows for us to process negative emotions. It is detrimental not to express negative emotions in a healthy way. 

So, take that time to talk or write out the emotions, what you want to express and release from this time so far. Then, decide on a narrative that allows you to honor the strengths you used to get through this, looking to tie in purpose and meaning. For example, "this time has been challenging, I learned that I have a stronger reserve of resilience and creativity than I could have imagined, I grew a deeper connection to my supports, and I will continue good self-care to keep filling my cup."

Why choose optimism? 

Research on optimism shows that it benefits our physical and emotional well-being, the quality of our connections, and even lengthens how long we live. 

Optimism is also a resilience factor, and we all need as much resilience as we can get now. 

We get to choose our mindsets, so why not look to realistic optimism knowing all of those benefits. Our mindsets also set what we look for as well as take in and process, so choose wisely. We know it has been hard, and we need to be more intentional in choosing our mindsets now more than ever. 

The great news is that with neuroplasticity, even those who see themselves as glass half empty can shift to a more optimistic mindset at any age: How My Son Ruined My Life - Semla & James Baraz.  

Try it on and see how it works for you. Wonder, "If I was in an optimistic mindset, how would I look at this situation?" If optimism is not available right now, that is okay too; many people are having a challenging time. 

Remember that FEAP is here to help if you need it.