There are two types of people in this world: the people who buy lottery tickets and the ones who don’t.
Usually, if you’ve bought a ticket you probably have some degree of (irrational) hope that insists it’s your lucky day, surely you’re a scratch away from the jackpot. And even when you don’t win, which, lets admit, is often, you keep coming back because anticipation makes you happy.
We’ve all heard that having no expectations leads to having no disappointments, which would theoretically only leaves room for happiness to surprise you along the way and simultaneously prepare you for the worst. But is that really the way to go? I would much rather live with my arms outstretches prepare to give and receive than to go about life with a wall built around myself.
It’s time we rewire our train of thought. Optimism isn’t about being blind to the negative; on the contrary, optimism is about learning to see.
The simplest way to stay optimistic is practicing gratitude. And I don’t just mean gratitude for the big things like that promotion or the baby on the way. I mean gratitude for the mundane things like being able to buy some coffee on the way to work, or having had the courage to text him first. Even having a bed to come home to is a luxury we too often take for granted. Once you start identifying these little things, you have turned your world into this big, wonderful place that’s bursting with life and opportunity.
If you practice optimism long enough, independently of the context or situation you’re currently enduring, it will eventually become a self-fulfilling prophecy of steady happiness.
Why? Because optimistic people aren’t scared to chase their dreams. They aim high because they’re not afraid of falling. This applies to love as well. Optimistic people are more likely to approach someone who seems interesting because whatever happens, the outcome can’t be that bad. The person of interest can either a) think you’re interesting too and share an enriching conversation or b) not be interested “but hey, no harm done, they’re missing out.” Life has a funny way of reflecting everything you put out there, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise to hear that this cognitive illusion can indeed be life-altering for the better.
And maybe it wouldn’t hurt if we started being optimistic about each other as well. Why not expect the best of people? That man sitting beside you on the subway would very well be your brother. Strike a conversation, hold the door open for the woman carrying too many groceries, contact that friend you haven’t spoken to in years. Treat every day as if it were an adventure, because it honestly is.
As tempting as keeping yourself grounded is, I’d have to argue that safe isn’t always better. Why stick to the ground when the sky is so broad? Limitless. If nothing in life is for certain, why not expect the better? We can’t control everything that happens to us but we can dictate what our attitude towards situations will be. Downfalls will be inevitable, but getting back up will be a lot easier if instead of beating yourself up about it, you remind yourself that trees shed their leaves in order to grow, too.
And yes, at some point we all fall down, but maybe the fall was just what you needed to remind yourself to look up.