Keeping a positive outlook after a Massachusetts divorce doesn’t always come naturally. But optimism is like a muscle – you just have to train it,
And learning to see the glass half full has its perks: It can improve the quality of your life and may even increase lifespan. When Harvard researchers studied 70,000 women over an eight-year period, the most optimistic quartile had an almost 30% lower risk of dying from several major causes of death compared with women in the least optimistic quartile.
If you’re looking to reap the benefits of a happier, healthier and more positive life, here’s what experts recommend you do.
Reframe or divert
The first step in approaching a negative situation with an optimistic outlook is to accept what you can’t change. Once you’ve done that, you have two options: reframe or divert, says psychotherapists. Both will help you to instantly feel more positive, as they draw your attention and thus, your emotions away from the negative.
Reframing the situation involves looking for opportunity instead of ruminating on the loss. When you’re going through something problematic, ask yourself, ‘What potential things could I gain from this?’ For example, people going through difficult breakups may find that they’ll gain the time to understand themselves. A rejection from graduate school may lead to a beneficial year of work experience in order to better prepare for higher education down the line.
Priming yourself to notice opportunities in the future instantly lifts you from a downward spiral of negative thoughts.
Sometimes, raw, overly emotional negatives can’t be reframed immediately and in those cases, it’s best to divert your attention elsewhere. Shift your focus to something else,. That could be something as simple as watching a funny video, calling a friend or taking a walk.
Savor the good
We’re really good at dwelling on the not-so-great. But when we experience something positive – like a compliment from a friend or a beautiful day outside – we tend to let it pass without even noticing. Savoring or holding onto those pleasant moments and thinking, Wow, this is really great can actually strengthen positive emotions.
Why Sunlight Is So Good For You
Even Hippocrates believed that the changing seasons had something to do with health-and that the key was how much available daylight there was during different times of the year. Be as descriptive as you can about the good things you notice, even if you’re talking to yourself. The more you build your vocabulary of positive words, the more easily your brain will be able to access them, which will help boost your overall mood and outlook.
Taking it a step further by writing down your positive experiences. Keep these notes in a jar, box or container. When you start to feel down, you’ll have a flow of positive thoughts and memories to read.
You wouldn’t expect yourself to remember important tasks without writing them down on your to-do list, would you? Well, the same is true about positivity. Write yourself a message on a sticky note and attach it to your computer screen at work. You might write down an inspirational quote you like, a reminder to smile or something you have to be thankful for. Small reminders help keep positivity front and center in your life.
Do something nice for someone else
One of the fastest, most effective ways to feel happier is to show someone kindness. In America, we’re so individualistic, that we think, ‘Oh I have this problem, I should focus on me and fix me.’ But really, the more we focus on other people, the more effective we are in terms of positivity.
In a 2017 study by Oxford University, researchers found that performing acts of kindness for just seven days had a measurable, positive effect on well-being and positive social emotion.
Phone a friend
Most optimists have strong, supportive relationships, according to researchers. You don’t have to have a lot of them, but you have to have people in your life where you feel like they’re there for you and you’re there for them.
Optimists are also more likely than pessimists to use their support networks. An optimistic thinker is more likely to say, ‘This is hard. Who do I need to call? What help do I need?’ Negative thinkers tend to isolate themselves in tough situations, which can breed more negative thoughts.
The comfort of knowing your own strengths and knowing you don’t have to do everything by yourself contributes to long-term happiness.
Thinking about what you’re grateful for can instantly improve your mood, and as you begin to make gratitude a habit, you’ll see lasting benefits.
It works because our interpretation of events influences our emotions more than the events themselves. In negative experiences, gratitude is one of the most effective tools, as it can change the emotions you feel.
Consider writing down three good things that happen to you every day – research has linked this act to increased happiness and fewer symptoms of depression.
Being grateful for the lessons learned in a negative situation, in spite of what led you to the lessons, will help you walk away from negative experiences with something gained. If you don’t fall, you can’t learn to get back up.
Should you be in the midst of a divorce or contemplating divorce, contact the Law Offices of Renee Lazar at 978-844-4095 to schedule a FREE one hour no obligation consultation.