The Fit Student – Open up to Optimism

Even if you don’t see yourself as an optimist, you might do so after a read of Southwick and Charney’s book Resilience: The Science of Mastering Life’s Greatest Challenges. Southwick and Charney show that you can look to life with optimism even while facing challenges.

And optimism provides many benefits, from goal achievement to better academic performance. So, read on, and discover how you can foster optimism.

Optimist’s Goal Set
Southwick and Charney say that optimism grows when you focus on the future (but not when you worry about the future). So, by goal setting for the future, you develop optimism.

I have learned to goal set. Every night, before I sleep, I write prayers in a journal for an hour. I write out a list of things I aim to do the next day. I list near-term goals, five year goals, and ten year goals. I write goals for myself and goals for the ones I love.

Recently, I had to invest in a risky venture. Unsure of whether I should take the risk, I almost panicked. But instead, I consulted my prayer journal. My journal reaffirmed that, for months, I prayed for such a risk. So, I took the risk, the anxiety stopped, and a sense of empowerment overcame me.

The more we goal-set, the more likely our dreams come true.

Optimists find Mentors
Everyone needs a role model, especially ones that foster optimism. My boyfriend serves as a role model for many. He smiles radiantly?so much so that his twinkling eyes tug at your heart valves. Nothing bad ever sticks to him; he naturally chooses optimism. He role modeled all the good things in my life from spirituality to the value of lifelong learning. Many people refer to my boyfriend as their most cherished role model. Find yourself a positive role model so you, too, can up your optimism.

Another mentor of mine, a professor who taught Western philosophy, passed away not that long ago. But her kindness and spirit influence me today, bolstering my optimism about the future. I’m about to start an article for The Voice Magazine called The Theorist, which I will dedicate to this mentor. As I read theory, I imagine her voice guiding my understanding of the theories I study. She inspired me to read theory, to one day teach again, and to pursue spirituality and lifelong learning. So, even people who are no longer with the living can deeply inspire. People we have never met but admire can also inspire us. Choose your role models wisely. After all, they have an explosive power to fuel optimism.

The Optimist Finds Opportunities in Troubles
For upping your optimism, Southwick and Charney advise to find opportunities in adversities.

In all of our challenges, opportunities lurk. We need to coax out the opportunities and pounce on them.

So, how do you coax out these gems? For one, by reframing your problem. Imagine many different ways of looking at the problem, particularly ways that lead to an advantage.

For instance, I didn’t get into the PhD. program. Yet, instead of feeling defeated, I plan for a second attempt at a doctorate degree. Daily, I toil toward this goal?for usually three or more hours a day. Thus, my failure to enter the PhD. led to an opportunity: a second shot at a doctorate.

I overcame another potential defeat. You see, one magazine rejected an article I wrote on relationships. I cried. With the rejection in mind, I viewed the piece as awful. Yet, I didn’t give up. Instead, I did nightly Bible studies, rewrote the article, and submitted it to a Christian magazine. They loved the piece and published it. I felt pride reading the article online; I viewed the piece as possibly my best work. So, by optimistically seeking an opportunity in adversity, my article went from junk to masterpiece and my confidence grew.

Southwick and Charney say to look to your strengths and de-emphasize your weaknesses. See your difficulties as temporary. “This too shall pass,” optimists say.

Optimism Makes You a Better Student
People who take optimistic outlooks bolster their creative potential, their health, the quality of their relationships, and their ability to absorb knowledge, according to Southwick and Charney. By staying upbeat, you do better at school.

When I had some social difficulties at the university, I dwelled on worries. The worries slowed down my study progress. I wish I had learned not to worry about things I couldn’t solve, about things from the past, about unimportant things, about unresolved things, about things not happening right now, and even about things I could change. So stay positive and learn to not worry; your studies will benefit.

The Best Way to Stay Optimistic
To solve problems and bolster optimism, gather info, acquire skills, plan, set goals, make decisions, resolve conflicts, and seek social supports, says Southwick and Charney. Get the skills you need to succeed as a student: read books and articles on writing and on mnemonics (tricks for memorization). Write out daily your short- and long-term goals. Do you want a certificate? A degree? A graduate degree? Write out strategies on how you’ll achieve your goals. Look to friends and family to provide comfort and assistance when your studies stress you.

So, foster your optimism to get the grades and reap the rewards.

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