- Written by Victor Parachin Victor Parachin
Though you are grieving the death of someone greatly loved, try to remember that you can grieve and, at the same time, you can remain optimistic about life.
Dealing with loss skillfully means grieving fully while continuing to be positive, hopeful, and optimistic. Here are eight things optimists do regularly.
1. They express gratitude. When people were told to write and then personally deliver a letter of gratitude to someone who had been especially kind to them, but whom they had never thanked properly, they experienced a huge increase in happiness, according to a study at the University of Pennsylvania.
Even more, that happiness boost lasted an entire month.
2. They smile more. Smiling does more than make us look happy — it makes us feel happy, too.
Studies have found that smiling provides a variety of psychological and physical benefits including: lowering stress levels, improving your mood, and helping you make more friends.
Researchers believe this is because smiling reduces stress hormones and makes you appear more approachable.
3. They forgive. Although it may be easier said than done, learning to forgive instead of holding a grudge leads to a more positive lifestyle, says David Mezzapelle, author of Contagious Optimism.
“Make peace with your past so that it won’t spoil the present. Once you accomplish this, you will close those chapters and live a more positive and happy life.”
4. They write down good things that come into their lives. Those who pay attention to the positive and write down the good that comes their way tend to be happier, notes psychologist Amy Przeworski, Ph.D.
Even if it wasn’t a particularly great day, try to find something positive to say about it, she advises.
“Most situations can be seen in both a positive and negative light. You just have to find the positive one and keep reminding yourself of it in order to eventually believe it.”
Taking time to write down positive experiences is a way of training the brain to be more optimistic in general.
And, the benefits of being a positive person extend far beyond the writing exercise. A study of Catholic nuns who journaled regularly found that those who focused on more uplifting content ended up living longer.
5. They spend time around positive people. One study reported that 48% of the women surveyed strongly agreed they are happier when around optimistic people.
Good moods are contagious, as are bad ones. Associating with positive people breeds more positivity in your own life. It’s an upward spiral rather than a downward one when spending too much time with negative individuals.
6. They cultivate resilience. According to University of Miami psychologist Charles S. Carver, Ph.D., who has written extensively about optimism, when compared with pessimists, optimists are far more resilient.
Optimists bounce back from painful experiences faster than pessimists do, says Carver.
“They stay in the struggle because they expect the ship to right itself.”
7. They are persistent. No matter what storms enter their lives, optimists keep their focus on getting through. Inch by inch, they tap into inner strengths and find a way through the challenge. Optimists find ways to self-motivate themselves day after day.
Their guiding credo is based on this wisdom from U.S. president Calvin Coolidge: “Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: Nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not: Unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: The world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”
8. They remain confident. That means they are able to deal with challenges following their own intuitive sense rather than be directed by other voices that say “yes, no, maybe; do this, not that; go in this direction, not that one.”
They know that always following the opinion of others creates uncertainty, erodes individuality, and results in confusion.
Victor M. Parachin, M.Div., is a grief counselor, bereavement educator, and author of several books, including Healing Grief.