Healthy Mind

I’m an Optimism Doctor, and Here Are 8 of My Best Tips to Be More Optimistic When the Bright Side Is Hard to See

Mary Grace Garis

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Photo: Getty Images/WestEnd61
With so much about life as we know it being different for an unknown amount of time amid this pandemic, being able to look on the bright side is complicated. But according to professional psychologist and optimism doctor Deepika Chopra, PsyD, finding joy and reclaiming a sense of positivity about the future is never more important than it is right now. Luckily, she created a tool that can help you learn how to be more optimistic: her deck of 52 research-backed optimism prompts ($40) that you can reach to whenever you feel like you can't find a positive light.

Think of this deck of cards, called "Things Are Looking Up," as a resource to shift your mind-set when staying positive feels impossible. And for a preview below, check out a few prompts from Dr. Chopra's favorite cards.

Learn how to be more optimistic by using Dr. Chopra's 8 tips below.

1. Embrace the magic of the number 3

There's something so superstitiously comfortable about the number three, and many of us understand the concept of trifectas to mean "complete." In this case, Dr. Chopra recommends practicing breathwork in simple, intentional rounds of three.

"To connect to your inner self, breathe deeply in for three counts, hold for three counts, and exhale for three counts," Dr. Chopra says. "Repeat three times."

2. Give a positive shout-out to someone right now

Gratitude lists are helpful and great for introspection, but taking the written exercise a step further by communicating expressions of gratitude can help keep our connections strong.

"Call, text, email, write a letter, or express in person your appreciation or gratitude toward someone you are thankful for. Silent gratitude is great, but, loud gratitude is even better." —psychologist Deepika Chopra, PsyD

"Call, text, email, write a letter, or express in person your appreciation or gratitude toward someone you are thankful for," says Dr. Chopra. "Silent gratitude is great, but, loud gratitude is even better."

3. Think about something that is bothering you

While it may not sound extremely positive to think about how you haven't seen your mom or your significant other or your best friend in months, bear with me and conjure a bothersome thought like this. "Now, immediately ask yourself, 'I wonder what I will learn from this? How is this going to help me grow,''" says Dr. Chopra. "Were you able to shift [your thought]? Even if just for one moment? If not, repeat and repeat again.'"

4. Say 3 things that made you happy today

Think of these golden nuggets and externalize them by saying them to yourself or to others, so it feels real and good.

"This list could be made up of anything, small or big. No one is listening, so be honest, be you, and be free," says Dr. Chopra.

5. do one thing that makes you feel happy, relaxed, and calm

Name it out loud, and fit it into your schedule.

"Maybe it’s a bath, a massage, a glass of wine, a cup of tea, a walk, being with your pet or being with someone you love; maybe it’s singing your favorite song super loudly in your car. Whatever it is, do it," says Dr. Chopra. "But, of course safely and while practicing social distancing."

6. Cultivate A Sense Of Humor

Laughing is a boon for your psychological well-being and your overall health, and using comedic framing can be a godsend if and when another slice of bad news drops.

"Sharpen your ability to laugh at yourself or something you found funny today," Dr. Chopra says. "If you aren’t already laughing out loud, try it."

7. Mindfully Worry

Learning how to be more optimistic isn't just about being perpetually positive because you also need to pay mind to your stressors. So give your worries your time...but a very select and brief amount of your time.

"Schedule five minutes to worry about anything and bothering. The trick here is that outside of those scheduled five minutes of mindfully worrying, no other worry time is allowed." —Dr. Chopra

"Schedule in five minutes to worry about anything and everything that is bothering you or making you feel anxious," says Dr. Chopra. "The trick here is that outside of those scheduled five minutes of mindfully worrying, no other worry time is allowed. If you aren’t able to do just one five-minute worry session a day, start with two or three scheduled, five-minute worry sessions and slowly work your way toward less."

8. Seek out a piece of positive, happy news right now

"So many unbelievably horrible things are happening around us, and we are aware of most them," says Dr. Chopra. "It's fine to be aware of these things; however, so many incredible things are also happening around the world, and we are aware of so few of them. Did you know that squirrels accidentally plant hundreds of trees each year, simply because they forget where they put their acorns? Or that the people who voiced the original Minnie Mouse and Mickey Mouse were actually married?"

See? You're able to pull out goodness everywhere.

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