You’ve probably heard or read a lot about mindfulness lately. Mindfulness is a way of living your life consciously, being aware of what you’re doing and why and why you should be more present in the moment. To live mindfully is an aspect of creating an optimistic view of yourself and the world. Mindfulness and optimism are connected but not the same.
Scientists agree that your mindset and whether you tend to be pessimistic or optimistic is something you can change. Only about 25% of optimism is inheritable, with the rest influenced by the environment where you grew up. And if your home environment was dysfunctional or tense, you are more likely to develop a pessimistic mindset. But it is not an innate part of you, and you can change it. Once you realize that you are not hard-wired for pessimistic thinking, it becomes easier to allow yourself to make that change.
Mindset is something that’s relatively easy to change. When you can step back and see how your mind was programmed, you then have the ability to take back control and hit the reset. Research has shown that there’s a part of your brain called the Reticular Activating System (RAS) that acts as a kind of control center and filters information from the outside world according to your current settings. And if you tune into to negativity, that’s what you will receive. But just as you can adjust your email to prioritize and filter messages, you can reset your RAS to help increase your optimism and filter out negativity. What you are doing in essence is training your brain to notice what YOU want it to notice. And practicing mindfulness can help you do just that.
For more information on mindfulness take a look at one of my previous posts.
Mindfulness and meditation are complementary techniques that will help you build a strong basis for optimism. Studies have shown that mindfulness practices can help you:
Remain in the present
Negativity is often fostered by brooding on past events and wishing you had done things differently. Mindfulness focuses your attention on what’s happening in the here and now. An optimistic view of the world stays in the present and looks forward to a bright future.
Mindfulness gives you the mental space to be able to re-frame problems as challenges and opportunities. You have a choice about how you want to react to the circumstances you find yourself in now. Choosing to be optimistic will help you solve those problems and find creative solutions as well as not be overwhelmed by them.
Optimism and mindfulness have been scientifically proven to improve your health! People who practice mindfulness and who have an optimistic approach to life have:
· lower cholesterol
· lower blood pressure
· stronger immune systems
· better resilience to deal with stress
· less anxiety and depression
· more positive relationships
· improved focus