Some people are more optimistic than others. They seem to have a natural ability to see the silver lining while others are constantly anticipating trouble and watching out for problems. Research in the last few years has discovered there is a gene linked to being optimistic. However, donít despair if you think you donít have that specific gene. You can learn skills to help you feel more optimistic.
Oxytocin is sometimes referred to as the happiness hormone. OXTR is the oxytocin receptor gene. This gene has two versions, an ĎAí version (adenine) and a ĎGí version (guanine). People born with two ĎAí versions or one of each version are less optimistic and more susceptible to depression than those with two ĎGí versions. They also have a natural tendency to lower self esteem and to feel less control over their lives.
OXTR is only one factor in determining how people feel about themselves and life. Other genes can have an influence. A positive, supportive upbringing and good relationships contribute to how people feel about life and the coping strategies they develop.
People who donít have the double ĎGí version can learn to increase their level of optimism.
Here are ten ways to increase optimism:
Every day give gratitude for the good things in your life, even if they are little things. Because you see what you look for you will find the number of good things increases as time passes.
Express gratitude to someone who has helped you or done a good job.
Each day write down three things that have gone well and think about why they happened. Sometimes you will notice you did something to contribute to that positive outcome.
Learn to meditate.
Make positive affirmations.
If the news makes you feel negative, limit the amount you watch or listen to. Donít go to sleep listening to the news.
Concentrate on what you are doing now so your brain canít obsess about problems or create worst case scenarios.
Avoid blaming yourself. Yes, it is the adult thing to do to take responsibility for something that really is your Ďfaultí. However, there are many things that are not your fault.
Avoid activities and people who drain your energy.
Choose to spend time with optimistic people or join a group which has a positive focus.