“How am I supposed to be an optimist about this?”

~ Pompeii by Bastille~

Is it one of those days when nothing is going right? You feel foul and can’t be bothered with anything. You wish that you didn’t feel that way but don’t see how you could feel any differently.

I’m sure you’ve heard Bastille’s song “Pompeii” at least once. It goes;

“I was left to my own devices

Many days fell away with nothing to show

And the walls kept tumbling down

In the city that we love

Great clouds roll over the hills

Bringing darkness from above

But if you close your eyes,

Does it almost feel like

Nothing changed at all?

And if you close your eyes,

Does it almost feel like

You’ve been here before?

How am I gonna be an optimist about this?

Where do we begin the rubble or our sins?”

If you’re anything like me you’ve probably sat somewhere pumping this tune applying the lyrics to the walls that are tumbling down in certain aspects of your life wondering how the heck you are supposed to be an optimist about it. Well before you spiral into a depression (or even if you’re already there) there is one thing that you can do – adjust your attitude.

Negative thoughts lead to a vicious cycle of unproductive behaviour, depression and stress. So the best thing you can do to get through the rough times is to be an optimist.

I’m serious! We have trained ourselves to focus on the negative. We sit around in our circles complaining about our lives and comparing the size of our problems instead of rejoicing in life’s joys and our successes. No wonder we don’t know how to feel good.

Admittedly when you’re overwhelmed or bummed out being optimistic can seem like the hardest thing to do. You’re not expected to shift from bad mood to good in an instant but you can gently lift the gloom one little positive thought at a time. Here’s how;

  1. Grab a pen and paper.
  2. Find a quiet place.
  3. Close your eyes and take 3 deep breaths in and out.
  4. Write down at least three things that you are grateful for that day making sure that the way you word it is completely positive.

For example if you have to stand a lot at work perhaps you want to write something like;

“Today I am grateful for my feet. Thank you feet for being so strong and getting me through the day. “

Or if you didn’t have time to cook dinner you may say;

Today I am grateful for the food truck with yummy dishes and great service that’s on my way home.”

These thoughts can be anything that you are grateful for no matter how small or insignificant it may seem. You might be grateful for your health in the middle of flu season, or meeting a deadline that has consumed your time, or having a boss that understands you are human, or a new lip gloss, or a compliment you received or just that you had a nice cup of coffee.

Write down as many as you can without repeating any of them.

I hear you asking, “what if I can’t find 3 things?” There’s the old saying that if we all threw our problems in a pile, upon seeing what everyone else’s problems were we would quickly snatch our own back up. There is always something to be grateful for. Start with the small or obvious things. Your friend might be going through a hard time in their marriage so write how grateful you are that your marriage is strong or that your spouse is kind and makes you laugh.

The more you write down and practice seeing the good things around you the easier it will become to get yourself feeling happy again. Soon you will be able to nip those “woe is me” moments in the bud and create moments of “whoa is me” good vibes about your accomplishments.

So the next time you find yourself sinking into the mental, emotional swamp of despair, take a moment to think of all the good things that exist in your life. Switch on your attitude of gratitude and find your happy place.

And remember, happiness is contagious so be sure to share these good feelings with your friends to keep the positivity flowing in the wider areas of your life.

Take care and recognize all the great things there are to love about you first.