By Anne-Marie Botek, AgingCare.com
Optimism; a word associated with sunny smiles and a Pollyanna-ish outlook on life.
But, what does it really mean to be optimistic? And—more important to the stressed-out caregiver—how can you be optimistic in the face of seemingly endless negativity?
Being optimistic does not mean that you have to constantly walk around with a smile plastered onto your face, burying your true feelings and pretending to be happy.
Rick Hanson, Ph. D., caregiver, and author of “Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neurosciences of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom,” says that being optimistic means that you see the world accurately, taking in both the good and the bad. And yes, you can train yourself to be more optimistic.
Pessimism, on the other hand, is an unhealthy obsession with the negative, which can snowball until a person feels completely helpless and totally trapped.
Hanson says that it’s unfortunately pretty easy to fall prey to pessimism because the human brain has a built-in survival mechanism—called the negativity bias—that makes us instinctually focus on the bad or threatening aspects of our environment while ignoring the good.
Caregivers can become so overwhelmed by the bad that it can be nearly impossible to see the good. Hanson offers three simple tips for caregivers who want to teach themselves to become more optimistic: