David Mezzapelle is the author of two books including the recently released 10 Habits of Truly Optimistic People: Power Your Life with the Positive.
As humans, we are all born with a bias towards optimism. No question there. Well-respected doctors, scientists, and spiritual advisors, such as Dr. Martin Seligman, Dr. Tali Sharot, and even Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, will go deep into how and why we are this way. However, on a very simple level, we believe that when we wake up we will not be hit by a bus, struck by lightning, or die suddenly for some unknown reason. This is a bias we all have; even the most pessimistic people have it. This bias is a good thing and it serves as the foundation of how and why we can all find optimism in our lives.
On a more scientific level, our bodies react positively to optimism and happy experiences. Every one of us releases biochemicals, such as oxytocin, serotonin, dopamine, and even endorphins during periods of euphoria. This release is what gives us that sense of excitement, ecstasy, or elation. The release can be from something as simple as having fun with friends or solving that difficult math problem. Or, it can be more intimate such as kissing a significant other or having sex. It can even be from delivering that great talk or buying that new car. No matter what it is, our body knows it’s good and it rewards us for it.
Optimism is Contagious
I believe optimism comes from seeing how others have overcome obstacles and adversities similar to our own, and then realizing that if they can overcome it, then we can too (hence “contagious”). Watching and reading about others who have found optimism in even the most difficult times strengthens us.
That comes from understanding that if we think positively and persevere, we too can emulate the successful outcomes of others.
Among all the stories we see from around the globe, there seem to be 10 common denominators. I actually believe that there are ten steps to finding or maintaining optimism in our lives. Let’s check them out:
Ten Steps of Optimism
1). Gratitude. Gratitude for even the smallest things is important along with savoring every moment. It truly prevents us from sweating the small stuff and allows to appreciate the blessings in our lives.
2). Stories. When people are going through tough times, they tend to think that they’re alone. However, when they hear stories of how others have persevered, it gives them hope. And hope is the foundation of optimism.
3). Magnet. “Optimism is a happiness magnet,” -Mary Lou Retton. You want to surround yourself with good, uplifting people. Their happiness and positive attitude is certainly contagious. It brings you up and adds light to your day.
4). Reflection. Look in the mirror and remember that what others do or say is a reflection of their own self, not a reflection of you.
5). Altruism. No matter what is taking place in your life currently, helping others is tantamount to your own happiness and to the happiness of others.
6) Embrace Change. If you accept change and embrace what life offers, it is more likely that you will be successful when you come across the peaks and valleys that we all encounter.
7) Believe in Yourself and the Value You Possess. Every one of us has value, unique value. And no one person is more or less valuable than another person.
8) Service the Engine. Healing not only comes from medical and spiritual professionals, but it also comes from within.
9) Reclaim Your Personal Power. No matter what life holds, you are not alone. There are people who have been through it and together you can surmount the obstacles.
10) Stay Inspired. Inspiration is fuel for the heart, fuel for the mind, and fuel for positive living.
In closing, picking up optimism and passing it on is something that the world can never get enough of. Whether we are experiencing peace or war, recession or prosperity, sunshine or clouds, etc. there can never be enough hugs, enough smiles, enough elation, or enough love to keep us all going. The cost is zero but the rewards are priceless. The key is for us to share our experiences with others because everything we do in life (successes and failures) serves as the basis of our wisdom. And sharing wisdom is a major way to facilitate contagious optimism. It’s the key to evolution and the constant improvement of mankind.