The Pessimist’s Guide To Optimism In 6 Easy Steps

Blue Jasmine /
Blue Jasmine /
Two years ago, 2 a.m., another heart-felt conversation about the latest drama, with the nearest party available. I was fueled by the liquid courage typical of vodka cranberries and the feeling that it had just not been my year.
Of course on paper it would probably go down as a giant success. Academic highs, giant steps in my career and an amazingly wonderful group of friends to #live with. It was probably the most fun I’ve ever had at school, but there I was venting my frustrations out to anyone who’d listen. The discussion ranged from romance, friends, school and anything else that was bothering me. And in that half-hour, I realized I hadn’t managed to say one positive thing about my life or myself.
I went home feeling empty; like that conversation had somehow laid out a map of my life, one that was only filled with bumps and forks in unpaved roads. How was it that I could be so uncomfortable with the idea of happiness? It was like I was desperate for something to whine about, anything to make me feel that all-too-familiar blanket of dissatisfaction.
Usually when I have a problem, I write it down; that night I took to my faithful notebook and wrote down everything that happened to me. Terrible relationships, a brand-new job, a solid GPA, a couple of bad professors, two really amazing ones, broken friendships, new sisters (sorority sisters), etc. And, written on paper like that, the sadness and anxiety I had vocalized weren’t as prominent. I saw a year of firsts, a year of old mistakes, a year of lessons learned and victories earned.
That very second I turned the page, pen-in-hand, and drafted the solution to my problem, an equation I’m sharing with you all: My very own Pessimists Guide To Optimism:

1. Write it down.

There’s a funny power in writing. It’s release and captivity all in one. It’s the freedom of expression, without the pressure of an audience. Writing down everything that makes you want to scream is cathartic. Go out to your local CVS, buy a notebook, and start writing. Trust me, all those frustrations will seem so much less important when written down on paper. And if not, I guarantee it will at least help you come to terms with them.

2. For every negative, there must be a positive.

It’s easy to focus on the negatives because they’re comfortable. Being positive is a challenge because with that optimism comes the fear that something bad is right around the corner. But that’s not always the case; it’s just what we Pessimists tell ourselves. We complain as a way to buffer for the inevitable. “We’re too fat, we’re never going to find love, we’re never going to pass that test, we’ll never make it in time…” My advice? Next time one of those negative thoughts start bubbling up, counter it with a positive one. “We’ll never fit into that dress” will quickly become “But, that’s okay because I’m not the only size 16 out there,” or “Maybe I’ll go for a quick jog.”

3. Get closure.

So often we apply the term closure to our relationships with everything but ourselves. It’s important that we come to terms with who we are, where we’re at, what we can do and what we cannot. When you accept yourself and your own position, then you can work on the things around you. You’re the most important thing in your life (a selfish mindset, sure, but an effective one) so start acting like it.

4. Smile more.

This is my biggest challenge. A smile is so much harder than it seems, but the pay-off is worth it. One smile can immediately change not only your view, but how others view you too. It sounds odd but starting with the physical will help the mental.

5. Make like a tree and branch out

For the longest time I thought my own little bubble was the most secure and comfortable place for me. I soon realized that that’s a lie I tell myself to avoid stepping outside of it. New friends, new places, new experiences — these things can easily adjust your mind-set, and allow you to get rid of the things that are holding you down. So often we settle for what we have, because to attain better is to go into the unknown. And while a little scary, the unknown will eventually transfer it’s own knowledge onto you. That knowledge will open you up to a world of new experiences, relationships and moments that will be worth all the nervousness and insecurity it to took you to get there.

6. Shed the last of that sad skin.

It’s never easy to move on. Getting away from the source of all your negativity is like cutting a limb. How can we be expected to break away from something that’s been part of us for months, even years? Yet, there’s something refreshing about taking that plunge; it’s the beginning of a new you. A better version of something that is already so great. Cutting out the vices, bad friends, even-worse boyfriends, and crappy jobs, is the best thing you can do for yourself.

Pessimism is defined by one’s ability to always see the negative side of something positive. I’m not advocating a non-stop sunshine fest. I’m merely suggesting we Pessimists try seeing the glass half-full for a change. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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