March is OPTIMISM Month. Are you an optimist or a pessimist? Do you often expect bad things to happen? “Pessimists are like the fairy tale about Chicken Little. In the fairy tale, Chicken Little kept shouting, ‘Help, help the sky is falling.’ In contrast, optimistic people expect the best,” explains Drs. Mary Ann + Michael Mercer, co-authors of the book + audio-book SPONTANEOUS OPTIMISM: Proven Strategies for Health, Prosperity & Happiness. Drs. Mercer are founders of OPTIMISM MONTH, which runs from March 1–31. “If you’re a pessimist don’t worry. Optimism is not a disposition you are born with or without. It’s a learned skill, and a very important ingredient determining your level of happiness,” clarifies Drs. Mary Ann + Michael Mercer.
The Optimism Doctors suggest practicing these tips each week of Optimism Month:
Week 1: De-tox Your Mind
To get rid of negative or intruding bad thoughts remember this “Rule of Optimism”: You can only keep one thought in your mind at a time. You can focus your thoughts on either pessimistic or optimistic thoughts. It’s your choice. Pessimistic people focus on gloomy thoughts of how they could fall down and not get up. They expect the worst to happen. Optimistic people expect the best. So, houseclean your head. This week, when setbacks or problems pop-up, immediately focus on finding a solution. Pessimistic people focus on complaining, but happy and optimistic people focus on solutions.
Week 2: Optimism and Happiness by the Numbers
Are you obsessed with negative thoughts? A simple way to become optimistic is to count your way to more positive thoughts. It’s easy to become an expert at switching your negative and bad thoughts to more positive and upbeat thoughts and feelings. So, this week your assignment is to focus on counting and switching your bad thoughts to upbeat and uplifting thoughts. Each time you have a negative thought, immediately switch to a positive thought or solutions to your woes. Write a tally mark on a pad of paper each time you switch like this each day. Your goal is to decrease the number of times you need to switch. For example, at first you may need to switch 50 times. In time, you will decrease it to 30, 20 or 10 times a day. If you are obsessively negative, you will become obsessively positive using this technique.
Week 3: Avoid Emotional Vampires
Are you a loser magnet? Do you attract emotional vampires or losers into your life? To become more optimistic — avoid emotional vampires. Pessimistic people allow “emotional vampires” to suck their positive feelings right out of their skulls. Emotional vampires include people who put you down, criticize you or mock or sabotage your dreams and aspirations. This week, take survey of your life by making a list of people and situations you are exposing yourself to. Then, discard or limit people, habits or situations that keep you from feeling optimistic and happy. In other words, “burn your bridges” if needed. Remember: Happy and optimistic people hang around with personal cheerleaders. Unhappy people surround themselves with emotional vampires.
Week 4: Act Like An Optimist
To begin acting like an optimist yourself, you need to learn what they do. Optimistic people act and carry themselves in certain ways. First, they use certain words. The words people use can effect their mood. Changing your words can actually change your attitude and feelings. The Optimism Doctors recommend using “upbeat” words instead of “upset” words. For example, you can say, “I feel overwhelmed.” Or, “I feel challenged … nevertheless I can do it”. Second, optimists and happy individuals take big steps, walk faster and stand taller. In sharp contrast, pessimistic and unhappy people shuffle their feet, take tiny steps, walk slowly and slouch. This week, use upbeat words and watch how you carry your body. Use the word choices and body posture of optimistic people.
“Using each of these techniques during Optimism Month will help you become happy and optimistic. They are easy to carry out and will create a positive domino effect with people in your life,” encourages Dr. Mary Ann Mercer, co-author of SPONTANEOUS OPTIMISM.
Note: Optimism Month is listed in Chase’s Calendar of Events.
Please contact Drs. Mercer if you wish to post or use their materials.