Is it possible to learn to be an optimist? That answer is a definite yes. You have to train yourself into positive thinking. If psychologists can prove through experiments that self-defeating behavior can be learned, then we can do the opposite and learn to be an optimist. As they say, the proof is in the pudding.
In the 1960’s, a psychologist from New York named Martin Seligman conducted experiments about helplessness. The idea around “learned helplessness” is that humans or animals can learn to believe that they are helpless in a particular situation. The final result is that the human or animal will do nothing about the situation even though they have a chance to. The experiment that Seligman conducted involved dogs that were shocked. When they had an opportunity to escape, they didn’t bother because the dogs thought that it was hopeless. His experiments offered evidence that hopelessness and negative thinking can be learned.
So how do we start learning to be an optimistic person? We do that by having a complete shift in attitude. We have to make our self talk positive. The conversation with ourselves is the most important to change if we want to be optimistic.
First, find out how many negative comments or statements you make in one day. This can be about anything or anyone you feel negative towards. Yelling at your TV doesn’t count for any points.
Now have two jars that are available to you. One jar should be full of coins and the other empty. Preferably, the two jars should be close by on a desk where you spend most of your time. For every negative comment that you find yourself making, drop a coin into the empty jar. Count the number of coins in each jar at the end of the day. Make a comparison between the jars to see if you have made more negative than positive statements.
On the next day list 28 negative statements and write down one statement per index card. For each of following days, take one card and write down a positive response to your negative statement. Have the card with you and read the positive statement 10 times before you start your day.
Repeat the steps after the first month and see how many coins end up in your negative jar. Hopefully, your strong desire to be an optimistic individual will help your realize that you have made some improvement.