99% of the way we see the world will determine how the world is. During these testing times, let's look for opportunity, be adaptive and be optimistic.
If we were lucky as children, our parents started to forge optimism into us directly after we were born. They set up our environment for excellent learning and parented us with grace, starting our natural optimism early in our lives. Or we may have been emotionally, physically or psychologically neglected and become pessimistic, expecting the worst outcome every step of the way. Most of us are somewhere in between.
People that are resilient practice optimism because it prevents worrying, fortune telling and projecting bad results into the future. It’s actually better to have no expectation of a situation than expect the worst from it.
Pessimistic expectations can make life very difficult indeed, even when it doesn’t need to be. Alternatively, we could take life one moment at a time and make ourself realise that your comfort zone is not the place to grow into our potential.
Forging optimism as an adult is hard, particularly if we have practiced worry for so long. Like any other practice it takes self-exploration and careful awareness of your thoughts, inclusive of the ability to recognise the wild mind, which would wrap you in cotton wool and never let you anywhere near the boundaries of your comfort zone.
Through study we are told that learning optimism is empowering. It is linked through testing to business success and even fewer injuries in sport, by the participants that practice optimism. People that practice optimism present it as a magic ingredient in their lives because everything they expect to go right usually does.
The most interesting thing about optimism and pessimism in our lives is that the same single experience can occur for two people yet their experience of it can be totally different. One will use it to further their resilience and self-belief whilst not even considering any negative connotations from it. The other may see it as yet another kick from this hardship called life, and not see any positivity in the experience at all. Most of us are somewhere in between.
It’s an excellent idea to examine your thoughts when faced with a challenge. What is your natural go-to expectation of the challenge? Ask yourself why! An excellent side effect of growing self-belief through small self-set challenges is the growth of optimism alongside it.
Laughter and Humour
Laughter is the ultimate positive emotion. Related directly to happiness, humour is an important tool for personal well-being and resilience.
In various studies laughter has been proven to relieve pain by producing endorphins which are the body’s pain relief chemical. It causes tension in the muscles, which then relax and stay more relaxed than before, for up to 24 hours. Laughter builds relationships, prevents loneliness, lowers blood pressure, releases mental and physical tension and heightens the immune response.
If you have been in a situation where laughter is trying to get out in response to something in the environment you will know that it is often uncontrollable. We can’t laugh at something we don’t find funny and we can’t stop laughing at something we do. We actually don’t know much about why we laugh, or the reasoning behind it, but we do know that it can affect the entire body, even the limbs and ability to breathe.
Scientists have found that laughter itself seems to be predominantly about people. It’s a natural communication tool that enhances relationships with those around us. Laughter builds bonds.
Laughter and communication are generally always intertwined. Whether we create something that makes other people laugh, or we laugh with someone else, it’s all about relationships with others. Laughter leads to bonding because it makes us feel good. It makes us want to return to the source of our amusement again and again, because it changes how we feel.
Humour begins as a natural behaviour and then becomes affected by learning experiences and life in general. As children we tend to play and laugh a lot. We enjoy everything and find even unpleasant things funny. As our personalities develop, so does our sense of humour. As we get older and develop the intelligence that shapes wisdom and a mature outlook, our humour becomes subtler. We begin to laugh at situations, or even life itself.
As adults we have often a sense of humour that has been learned from our local communities yet is not universally recognised. Whilst we consider some things funny inside of our own social circles, society rules or even geographical areas, they may not be funny outside of them. As adults we have often learned to laugh at the things that embarrass us, or the stressors that affect our lives. This varies with individuals, but it is generally a healthy attitude to take as opposed to rumination or even depression about life.
When mental health issues occur, we can forget how to laugh. Similarly, if we are always in our comfort zone, we get fewer chance of new experiences, which can lead to the good feeling associated with laughter.
Humour is part of resilience and optimism because it twists a bad situation happening to us, into something funny. Nothing has changed about the situation, but how we feel about the situation is much more beneficial to us. An important part of humour which some people have, is the ability to laugh at yourself which will give a much healthier perspective than worry because it helps to detract from the seriousness of any situation. Can you laugh at yourself? I imagine life may be difficult if you can’t.
Here’s an example of perspective from a situation that happened to me recently. I’m losing my hearing earlier than expected in my life. I also run an online business with my husband so when I’m waiting for appointments, I’m usually messing with my phone to catch up on the job. Yesterday I was in the waiting room at the dentist and heard my name called, so hopped up and went to the door. In the doorway I become entangled with another patient, called Barry. Poor Barry was the one actually called with no mention of Sally at all. When we were detangled, and Barry successfully went to his appointment, my first flush of embarrassment was replaced with a wave of despair. So, I changed the perspective there and then and have giggled about the situation ever since.
Hearing loss is serious business it can be isolating, embarrassing and depressing. I’m determined that for me it’s going to be another reason to laugh and practice different perspectives, which is something any of us can do with any challenge that enters our lives.
Don’t get me wrong, not every situation is funny. It can be hard to find humour during grief and crippling depression, but it’s available as a resilience tool for most of our lives and provides the most beneficial physical and emotional results. Humour certainly shouldn’t be overlooked.