Retirement Lifestyle with Paul McKeon | How to be an optimist

The way we think about things largely determines whether we are happy or not and also has a major effect on what happens in our lives.

One of Henry Ford’s most famous quotes was “whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right”.

Unfortunately, many of us have heads full of negative thoughts which tell us we can’t do this or that and generally undermine our self-confidence. Having these kinds of negative thoughts in charge of our attitude is a recipe for an unhappy life.

If you want to be a happier person and experience more happiness in your life, you need to be more optimistic. Research has proven that people who think optimistically are more likely to be generally happy and have a more positive way of thinking.

So, how do you learn to think optimistically?

First, make the effort to be aware of what you’re thinking. Take note of the self- talk that’s going on in your mind. It’s not that hard to do. When you see yourself starting a chain of negative thoughts about something, step in and stop the process. Encourage your mind to change direction and look at the positive side of whatever you’re thinking about. Now it’s unlikely that you can stop all negative thinking but it’s certainly possible to reduce the level of negative thinking and increase the amount of positive thinking.

It may help to realise that your thoughts aren’t you – they’re just ideas flashing through your mind. They aren’t facts and they’re certainly not right all the time. Just because you think something doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily true.

A good technique to change negative thinking is to look logically at a negative thought and see if there are solid, rational reasons to support it. Could you put a good case to support it in front of an intelligent audience? If not, why are you letting it affect your thinking?

Another technique to encourage more positive thinking is to get into the habit of asking yourself questions that will generate a more positive response to whatever issue you’re considering. Some examples are: What’s a good outcome from this situation?; What can I learn from this experience?; How would (someone I admire) handle this?

Changing the way you think will take time and effort, but there’s a major benefit in working on this  because if you can control your thoughts, you can better control your life.

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