It’s no secret that happy, optimistic people experience a better quality of life than those with a pessimistic worldview, but if that’s the case, then why are so many people still unhappy? It’s obviously not for lack of trying—we’ve got everything from fancy cars to fancy pills to keep us satisfied, but those are just temporary solutions. To become a truly happy person requires something more intangible; namely, a commitment to cultivating a better attitude within yourself.
This personality transformation won’t happen overnight, but if you consistently apply these steps to your life, you’ll begin to see changes. Often it’s good to start with a simple, relatively easy goal. For example, we know that the things we eat can affect our emotional as well as physical health, so begin by making one small adjustment to your diet. Try planning Paleo-friendly meals one day a week for a month and see what differences this tiny change to your routine can have on both your body and mind—then, build on that success by applying even more Paleo concepts to your life. Once you begin to see for yourself what a diet low in processed foods and high in fresh meat, vegetables, and fruits can do to your levels of happiness and mood stability, you’ll wonder why you ever ate any other way.
Read on to see just how a Paleo diet manages to keep you feeling well and to learn some other valuable tips about how to maintain an optimistic view of the world.
1) Love Yourself
This should be a given, but unfortunately for too many people, low self-esteem and outright self-hatred trigger destructive behaviors that prevent both physical and emotional peace. Learning to be happy with yourself has to be the first step on any journey to a more optimistic and affirming life.
Happy, optimistic people know they’re imperfect, and they use it as motivation to strive for betterment. If you want to improve your outlook on life, then begin to free yourself from the rigid, socially unrealistic standards of “perfection” that you allow yourself to be subjected to. There’s no better way to feel more optimistic right now than to allow yourself some no-strings-attached happiness.
Loving yourself isn’t purely a mind game, though. There’s a very real connection between your happiness and your physical body—and that’s why it’s so important to care enough about yourself to keep it in the best shape possible.
Researchers have been exploring the link between what you eat and how you feel. For example, we now know that a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids (commonly found in foods like cold water fish) can protect us against depression.
That reason alone is enough to improve your diet, but the research doesn’t end there—there are a number of ways that our mouths and brains are inextricably linked. Making the change to a diet low in processed foods and high in lean protein, fruits, and vegetables will begin to improve your physical and mental health.
2) Stay Positive
Sometimes the best way to cultivate a positive, optimistic attitude is by going on the offensive against negativity. By ridding yourself of the toxic elements your life has accumulated, you’re creating a blank canvas that’s ready to receive your newfound happy disposition. The best way to go about removing bad influences is by knowing what to look out for—the two biggest roadblocks on your way to optimism will be negative people and your own negative inner dialogue.
People say, “misery loves company,” for good reason—when those around us are miserable, not only do they begin to attract other miserable people, but they also start turning happy people sour. That’s why it’s so important that you find a strong social support system of friends who embrace life and all the happiness it has to offer. As with negative people, the more time you spend around your upbeat, optimistic peers, the more you will find that their good attitude is highly contagious. Plus, once you’ve caught the “happiness bug” you’ll start finding that your positivity is rubbing off on others as well.
However, before you can expect others to exude optimism, you’ve got to do it too. If you let yourself get caught in a cycle of bad thoughts and attitudes, you may find that you’re the negative person that everyone else wants to avoid!
3) Embrace Realism
There are people in the world who would argue that optimists are annoying—they’re too upbeat, they’re too naïve, they’re blind to the problems of the world—the list could go on forever. While there is definitely such a thing as being overly chipper or ignorant to the suffering of others, these are not the problems of a happy, optimistic person. Rather, they are problems of idealism, and optimists and idealists couldn’t be further from one another.
While an idealist will focus only on the positive aspects of a situation and downplay the negatives, an optimist will not ignore those bad aspects. Instead, they will face them head on, so that they can figure out the best, most positive course of action given the circumstances.
Happy, optimistic people aren’t head-in-the-clouds, hunky-dory types. They fully understand that sometimes things go wrong and that sometimes it’s just not their day. Being positive doesn’t mean you won’t ever be bummed, but it does mean that you will always strive to make things better for yourself and others, regardless of the situation.
4) Learn Contentment
How successful we are in our personal and professional lives is one way to gauge happiness. If you’ve got a great job and dream spouse then you’ve got lots to be happy about, right? Unfortunately, when we think of being happy as this merit-based system where you do something good and receive happiness in return we begin to forget that happiness is not found in other people or things but rather, is found inside ourselves.
To truly be an optimistic person, it’s important that you learn how to be content with yourself regardless of what your situation is—you’re the same person in good times and in bad times, and you should learn to treat yourself well regardless.
5) Forgive Others
This final step is easier said than done, but it’s just as vital to becoming a happy person as all the others. When you learn to let go of the past and any hard feelings you might have for someone, you open up space in your mind and in your heart that can be filled with more positive, worthwhile thoughts. People might hurt us intentionally intentionally or otherwise, by letting your hurts fester inside, you keep yourself from mending relationships with people who are desperate to reconcile. Even if you have no plans to become best friends with the offending party, forgiveness is a great way to close a dark chapter in your life and start a happier, more optimistic outlook.