Two good things happened this morning.
I had an early breakfast with a sweet friend. I read part of Dave Asprey’s “46 life rules” in Game Changers.
How are these two things alike?
They highlight optimism.
Whenever I breakfast with this friend, I laugh. We share similar faith and similar life ambition, and when we meet I laugh loud in a quiet breakfast spot nestled in corner of a bustling city.
And Asprey? Well, of all his 46 rules he has gathered from 450 expert ‘game changers,’ this is his biggest one: Practicing gratitude is the most profoundly transformative thing you can do.
You know something else about gratitude? It fuels optimism. If you see the silver lining and find people and actions to be grateful for, then you can feel optimistic about the future.
I am an optimist. My friend, the lovely breakfast buddy from this morning, is an optimist. She was telling me about her boyfriend who, if it’s possible, is even more of an optimist. He’ll have a rough day, but he’ll recap with “it was good even though…” He finds the silver lining even in those bad days.
But I’m well aware not everyone is an optimist. We are born with a certain set point – either more optimistic or more pessimistic. The best news about that set point: it can change. That’s right. You’re not resigned to life as a pessimist (or a realist as my hubby likes to say) if that’s where you find yourself. You can train your brain.
I was thinking about that as I read through Asprey’s book, especially coming off of this particularly delightful optimistic breakfast. How can more conversations flow like that one?
I landed back at gratitude.
Not only does gratitude grow optimism, it does a lot of other things. For example, one of the other rules was “Fear is the Mind Killer!” Yikes! Basically the rule says you have to get past fear of failure. The best way to do that? “Gratitude stops fear!” How often is fear our biggest struggle? Yet there’s actually medical evidence (a long explanation about your parasympathetic nervous system) which shows you can boost resilience and reduce stress by listing three things you’re thankful for before you go to sleep. (I guess Bobby McFerrin was on to something with his little Don’t Worry, Be Happy.)
I looked at all the rules that had an optimism or gratitude component. Tons of them. Rule 33: Happy People are Successful! Rule 3: Eliminate Words that Undermine Your Strength. Rule 32: Money Doesn’t Motivate Game Changers. How is that one linked to optimism? Just that Rule 32-ers don’t operate out of a scarcity mind set, but they focus on amassing joy not money. Joy = Optimism. Note, joy is not circumstantial. Joy exists, as does optimism, even when the circumstances around you are challenging.
As I left for a birthday dinner for a close friend Saturday night, little bit said, “mommy, just don’t laugh so loud.” Ha! (Imagine that ha in a very loud voice.) Sorry little bit, mommy is going to keep laughing loud, and probably embarrassing you more than you can count, but I’m an optimist. And a loud optimist at that. Hopefully, years from now, the sound of my loud optimistic laughter will make you smile and even laugh yourself.
Let’s practice moving our set point one more degree towards optimism. Let’s encourage our kids to move their set point to optimism. Those simple dinnertime conversations? I REQURE them to tell me something good that happened before they can tell me the bad. Just last night, one said, I don’t have anything good, it was a bad day.
Oh no bud, you ALWAYS have something good, and we’re going to start with that. Let’s all start from there.
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