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Is the glass half full or half empty? That’s just one saying that can help you understand how you look at the world. Optimists—those half-full responders—are said to look on the bright side. But when you are in the thick of it and everything is just going wrong, how can you be expected to see the sun?
Of course, optimism is needed most when things aren’t going right. So what is it and how do you make sure you have it when the going gets tough?
“We define optimism very simply as the ability to focus on opportunities verses obstacles,” explains Bert Jacobs, Chief Executive Optimist at Life is Good. “A rational optimist acknowledges obstacles, but chooses to pour his or her limited resources into opportunities. Interestingly enough, focusing on the opportunities in your life is also the best way to overcome the obstacles in your life.”
A Guide To Daily Optimism
According to Jacobs, there are some steps you can follow to help remind yourself to be optimistic—and it starts first thing when you wake up.
“When you wake up in the morning, make a conscious decision to think about what’s right in your life rather than what’s wrong,” he shares. “This puts you in a better place to “Grow the Good” in your life.”
It’s not going to come naturally to everyone, but Jacobs says that is what makes optimism like running.
“The more you practice it the better you get,” notes Jacobs. “When you witness a great runner, you can bet they have logged a lot of miles, right? The same is true of a great optimist.”
The more you practice, the more natural it looks and feels, and the easier it becomes. So practicing it throughout the day—taking a moment at your desk or during a run to find something you are thankful for—is key. Another step is to learn how others practice optimism. One way to do that is through asking others how they are approaching obstacles in their lives. Some stories from the Life Is Good community have been collected in Life Is Good: The Book, if you don’t know where to start.
Optimism For Runners
Jacobs shares that optimists have superpowers—one of which is gratitude. Practicing gratitude is key for runners to stay optimistic, even during the hardest runs, races and through injury.
“Like many things we often take for granted, running is a great privilege,” adds Jacobs. “Next time you catch yourself saying, “I have to go for a run,” try substituting the word “get” for “have”. That little change makes a big difference. You “GET TO” go for a run because you have two functional legs, you have two strong lungs to breathe in the fresh air, and a safe community for your loop.”
He explains that replacing that key word helps shift your mindset and can aid in the transformation from pessimist to optimist. An example of how to practice this in your own life comes from one of the Life Is Good team members, John Banse, who was severely injured by the second bomb at the 2013 Boston Marathon.
Your Mantra Of Optimism
One great way to check in with yourself mid-run is to create your own mantra or motivational saying. Jacobs shares how he created his:
“Many years ago my niece was watching a dog running in the park one day when she looked up at me and said, “I wish I could run like a dog.” Simple, right? But brilliant,” he exclaims. “Dogs are far better runners than us. They are fully present, never distracted by their iPhones, and they run for the pure joy of it. So “Run Like a Dog” quickly became my mantra for running. And it apparently resonates with many others too, because we put it on a t-shirt with an image of the Life Is Good dog—named Rocket—running, and it’s become one of our best sellers.”
Jacobs recommends you keep your eyes and ears open and something you love will come to you.