Want to Innovate? Science Says, “Be Optimistic!”

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Synopsis

Innovators are not immune to the roadblocks and pitfalls of life. They may even encounter more trials than the average person as they make and remake in the name of excellence. Why are they able to persevere and prevail when others don’t? An optimistic attitude keeps the innovator cheerful and encouraged on the road to accomplishment.

Life can be unpredictable, especially for curious thinkers who push the boundaries and take risks in pursuit of their passions.  The road to an innovation is fraught with obstacles and failures.  To weather the inevitable storms and achieve in spite of difficulties, innovators rely on their hopeful and optimistic attitudes.  An optimistic attitude is one of the 27 characteristics that notable innovators have in common (Kim, 2016). Innovators are able to discern the ray of sunshine through the clouds.  It’s what enables them to persist through their challenges and reach success on the other side. An optimistic attitude is essential to help you see the positive outcomes regardless of existing circumstances.  Research has shown that you can develop your optimistic attitude by practicing positive speech and actions in everyday activities. Then, refine your outlook by taking a positive path forward in every circumstance whether positive or negative.

1) Look for the power of positivity in everyday life:

· Practice being optimistic and recognize things to be optimistic about, even when the current situation seems negative

· Be positive about the here and now—instead of dwelling on the past or worrying about the future

· Find reasons to focus on the good—by noticing little snapshots of kindness that you find yourself and others doing—instead of longing for a big picture of happiness (that’ll eventually emerge)

· Keep lists of problems to look back at later and discover how many seemingly impossible problems actually got solved

· Start the day with clear, positive thinking; look in the mirror and say out loud, "Today is the first day of the rest of my life—one day closer to accomplishing my dreams.”

· Write down a statement that describes the way you wish to see the world (e.g., “Nothing is impossible”) and hang it somewhere you’ll always see it.

2) Appreciate the little things and express gratitude:

· Cherish the reality of today more than the promise of tomorrow find beauty in every moment, and communicate this appreciation to others every day

· Be grateful for good things in life even when some things are bad, and share the feeling by being generous to others to give them something to be grateful about

· Imagine a positive future, develop close relationships, and express gratitude—verbally, in writing, or through actions

· Learn to say thanks, freely give compliments, and accept compliments gracefully.

3) Handle negativity when necessary:

 You’ve trained yourself to recognize the good things happening every day.  Congratulations!  But even with your positive outlook, you will still encounter negativity.  You need to develop practical ways to deal with the negativity you will inevitably meet up with so that you can continue to move forward toward your passion.  Actively shaping your surroundings is a great place to start.  Spend time with people who make you feel and act like the best person you can be, and avoid those who are cynical and pessimistic.  Here are other ways you can reduce the drain of negativity in your life:

· Reduce gossip, sarcasm, negative news, and intake or discussion of media (TV, the Internet, newspaper and radio), because the media fosters negativity

· Learn how to interact effectively with people who trigger negative emotions (try clearly stating you don’t appreciate negativity, and don’t overreact to negative comments)

· When something makes you unhappy, spend time alone to figure out what you can and can't change and then communicate your thoughts with people you trust

· Smile big in any situation—even when nobody's around—because optimism is contagious; avoid making unpleasant faces, crossed arms, tapping feet, rolling eyes, condescending smirks, and sighing

 Remember that seeing only negative aspects of situations leads to negative consequences in life, such as missed opportunities to find good people or to improve relationships, which can affect your overall quality of life.

4) Accept your mistakes and learn from them:

· Don’t be upset or frustrated when you make a mistake or fail; instead, close your eyes and imagine (for a moment) a place or circumstance that makes you happy

· Use a mistake as an opportunity to become better at something even when it may seem impossible

· Forgive yourself for things that you regret or can’t control, and forgive others for everything

· Don’t trap yourself into feeling responsible for others’ well-being; recognize and free yourself from situations and relationships that are against your values or make you feel unhappy.

Focusing on what’s going well and seeing negative events in a positive light reduces your stress and enables you to persist despite setbacks and failures. Moreover, you can prepare yourself to enhance your flexible perspectives, to create opportunities out of difficulties, and to achieve unique ideas or solutions.

Tags: dr kim, gratitude, learning from mistakes, mistake, negative feedback, optimism, positive expectations, positive thinking

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