Here's The Trick To Being Optimistic — & Meaning It

Photographed ny Alexandra Gavillet.
A version of this story originally appeared on Shape.

We're fed a lot of platitudes about positive thinking — fake it till you make it, find the silver lining, the list goes on. We're also told that this is the right way to think, even on our worst days, which has us wondering, How are we supposed handle challenging situations as optimists without feeling like we're really forcing ourselves to think positively?

spoke with experts on the subject to learn how to be a more realistic optimist.

Related: The Health Benefits Of Being An Optimist Vs. A Pessimist

For starters, always have a plan — that way, you'll always have something to look forward to. Whether you're preparing for a major trip or just getting organized for next weekend, you'll feel more naturally motivated than you would otherwise. But there's a trick to keeping these plans realistic: make sure you have a backup.

"Since optimists expect good things to happen in the future, when they realize that something is unrealistic, they identify the alternatives and feel okay with deviating from their original goal," explained Carsten Wrosch, PhD, a psychology professor at Concordia University. More often than not, thinking positively means being prepared.
Related: Do You See The Glass As Half Full? The Answer May Be In Your Genes

Let's go back to the idea of finding a silver lining for a moment. According to Dr. Wrosch, you shouldn't worry if a setback doesn't instantly come with a blessing in disguise. If you give it time, a new opportunity might come out of something initially unfortunate. That's right: Sometimes, optimism doesn't guarantee instant gratification, but it's worth it in the long run.

Click through to Shape for more well-bing tricks and tips. (Shape)

Related: The Power Of Negative Thinking: 5 Reasons Why Positivity Gets It Wrong

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