Now that we’re about a week past what many behavioural scientists have dubbed ‘quitting day’ (that is, about two weeks into the new year, by which time a disastrously high proportion of people have abandoned their new year’s resolutions) it’s a good time to discuss the power of a positive outlook.
We all know that having a positive outlook is important for achieving success and happiness. However, blind optimism can sometimes do more harm than good.
That’s where the concept of realistic optimism comes into play. Realistic optimism involves having a positive outlook while also acknowledging and preparing for potential challenges. It is having the courage to start something new and knowing failure could be a possibility.
To quote Eleanor Roosevelt “Do one thing every day that scares you.”
When it comes to health and wellness, realistic optimism can be a powerful tool.
By approaching our health journey with realistic optimism, we can stay positive while also taking proactive steps to overcome any challenges that may arise.
Here are some tips for incorporating realistic optimism into your health and wellness routine:
- Seek realistic change: Having a clear vision of what you want to achieve is important, but it’s equally important to set lifestyle changes that are realistic and most importantly, achievable. This will help you stay motivated and avoid feeling discouraged if you don’t see any results. For example, if you want to lose weight, set a number that’s achievable for your body type and lifestyle. Trying to lose 10 kilos in a week is not realistic and undoubtedly sets you up for failure. Instead, aim to lose 500g first, and then build from there.
- Focus on the positives: Focusing on the things that you can control and celebrating your progress along the way can help you maintain an optimistic outlook and stay motivated. Small wins are still wins. If you’re trying to incorporate more exercise into your routine, celebrate small victories like walking an extra block, parking your car further or stretching before you start your day. Don’t focus on feeling down when you miss more formal exercise opportunities, instead understand that every step forward is progress towards a more active lifestyle and should be celebrated.
- Prepare for challenges with a growth mindset: Acknowledge that setbacks and obstacles are likely to happen, a normal part of the process and also a learning opportunity. When you encounter a challenge, don’t give up. Instead, think about how you can overcome it or what you can learn from it so that it doesn’t prevent you from staying on track towards reaching your goals. For example, if you get sick and have low energy to exercise, don’t throw in the towel. Instead, focus on another part of your health, like hydrating a little more, getting good restorative rest, or adding in fresh foods loaded with vitamins and minerals so that you can recover well and get back on track.
By incorporating principles from this mindset into your daily routine, you can view health improvement (or any goals you are working towards) as a progressive journey rather than a series of chores that lead to an outcome. This perspective can help you to stay motivated and adapt to challenges as you work towards your health and wellbeing improvements.
Written by Karla Fruichantie – HBD International