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Timeless Optimism: Five of My Favorite Tips

I’d like to start this week with positivity. So this Monday I’d like to simply share five of my favorite timeless tips on optimism.

I hope you will find something here that helps you to stay with or to find optimism during the week and beyond.

1. It is not too late to change your life.

“Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.”
Maria Robinson

It may feel like you have been on the same path and stuck in the same habits for so long that you are stuck permanently on your current route.

It doesn’t have to be that way though. I didn’t make many positive changes to my own life before I was 25 (i’m 33 now). And over the past 6+ years I have received thousands of emails from readers of all ages – between 14 and 72 – that have told me about how they have recently changed their life in a positive way.

You may not be able to change your life in any way you want right now. But work with what you have where you are right now.

Make a small change if that is what is possible. That small change and success will give you confidence and you can build upon that to make more and perhaps even bigger changes over the year.

2. Don’t make mountains out of molehills.

“If you break your neck, if you have nothing to eat, if your house is on fire, then you’ve got a problem. Everything else is inconvenience.”
Robert Fulghum

It is easy to let thoughts spin away. To let them grow from a thought or a situation into a big and very scary monster in your mind.

What can you do about this thought habit?

One thought combination that has helped me with this habit is to:

Say stop right away. If you have read anything I have written about self-esteem then you may have seen that I often mention using a stop-word or stop-phrase.

This works well to build self-esteem. It also works well for optimism. In this case it simply means that as soon as you become aware of that you are starting to make a mountain out of a molehill you say or shout STOP! or something similar in your mind.

I tend to use the phrase: No, no, we are not going there!

Broaden the perspective. After I have used my stop-phrase I ask myself this about the perceived problem: Will this matter in 5 years? Or even 5 months?

The answer is almost always no. And my mind is once again calmer and I feel level-headed.

3. Find a more helpful way to view your troubles.

“What seems to us as bitter trials are often blessings in disguise.”
Oscar Wilde

“If you will call your troubles experiences, and remember that every experience develops some latent force within you, you will grow vigorous and happy, however adverse your circumstances may seem to be.”
John Heywood

It is easy to get dragged down by the troubles that turn out to not just be molehills (or air).

But if you view them in a helpful and optimistic way then, yes, they may still hurt. But they tend to often hurt a lot less and can even be a source of optimistic excitement.

I didn’t use to like making mistakes or failing at all. I often chose to stand still and to not do anything to not risk anything. Nowadays I have learned that these things tend to truly be a blessing in disguise.

What has changed?

I view them differently and act upon them differently than I used to.

I ask myself: what is the opportunity in this situation?

I ask: how will this experience help me in the long run?

These questions help me to make good use of a situation that may seem negative at first. And by doing this process over and over I am a lot less afraid of making mistakes or failing because I know from my experience that by handling this in a smart way I have gained many benefits and grown as a person over the past years.

4. Focus on the small steps you can take.

“Having a positive mental attitude is asking how something can be done rather than saying it can’t be done.”
Bo Bennett

When you have found an opportunity in what seemed like a totally negative situation then focus on what you can do and take action on.

Ask yourself: what is one small step I can take today to get the ball rolling and move forward with this situation?

Just take that one small step today. Then another tomorrow. The small steps tend to add up quickly and, as I mentioned above, will breed confidence that allow you to take more and bigger steps.

5. Learn to reduce and handle worries.

“When I look back on all these worries, I remember the story of the old man who said on his deathbed that he had had a lot of trouble in his life, most of which had never happened.”
Winston Churchill

Worries can be very destructive.

But most of the things you fear will happen never happen. They are just nightmares or monsters in your own mind. And if they happen then they will most often not be as painful or bad as you expected. Worrying is most often just a waste of the time you have here.

I know, this is easy to say. But what can you do about it?

What has worked for me is a similar combination that I mentioned above.

I first use my stop phrase: No, no, we are not going there!

Then I ask myself a question based on Churchill’s quote: how many of my worries and things I feared came into my reality in the past?

The answer is: very few.

By repeating this over and over this quick process becomes a habit and starts to pop up often quite automatically when my mind starts to worry about something.

And that has been a wonderful help.

Image by Sterlic (license).

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Leanne February 18, 2013, 6:06 pm

    Thank you for your great reminders!

  • Trevor February 19, 2013, 1:27 am

    Your opening point is one worth repeating. It is NEVER too late to make a new beginning.

    I didn’t start weight lifting until I was 33. That simple step eventually led me on a path to incredible change. I’m a far happier and healthier individual than I ever was for many years prior.

    Change is inevitable. Don’t fight it. Use it. CHOOSE how you will change. And get started right now.


    • Henrik Edberg February 22, 2013, 3:52 pm

      Well done Trevor and thanks for sharing your inspiring perspective!

  • Inspiring Citizen Rafi February 19, 2013, 4:15 am

    Hi Hendrik,

    What you said about small steps is the point that struck my heart..

    I would like to add one more point:

    There are certain people who blame fate, but I would have to say that you have the choice to take action and if still fate behaves in a wrong way then you can at-least tell yourself that I have tried this and it didn’t work.

    One more thing is to frequently see whether your plans are working and then making adjustments to those.

    • Henrik Edberg February 22, 2013, 3:53 pm

      Thank you for adding your thoughts and tip, Rafi!

  • Vincent Nguyen February 19, 2013, 4:16 am

    I wish my friends back home would internalize number one. I’ve moved from California over half a year ago and looking back, it seems everyone has been stagnant. No one is making any major leaps in their lives and they should because they’re all at a time in their lives where the environment is so different. They aren’t taking advantage of it.

    Thankfully, I realize it’s not too late to make changes to better myself and create a great life. I’ve embraced the change in environment and worked with what I have. Amazingly enough, I’ve created something I am proud to bleed for. So many leaps and bounds that past-Vincent of last year would have his jaw hit the floor. I can’t wait to see what’s happening next.

    • Henrik Edberg February 22, 2013, 3:54 pm

      That is awesome to hear, glad you have made such a positive change, Vincent!

  • Daniel Aipa February 19, 2013, 7:05 am

    awesome read. I really need to work on taking the small steps. I have such big hopes and goals that I forget there is a process that is needed. In order to achieve the ultimate goals it is essential to break it all the way down to what goals do you have to do daily in order to reach the ultimate one. Thanks again.

    • Henrik Edberg February 22, 2013, 3:55 pm

      Thank you! I hope and believe your focus on taking the small steps will help you to achieve want you want in life.

  • Fab February 19, 2013, 7:49 am

    I was actually worrying about something when I came upon your post. I asked myself the ‘Will it matter in 5 months’ question and just like that, my worry didn’t make any sense and I felt lighter!! Love your blog!

    • Henrik Edberg February 22, 2013, 3:56 pm

      I’m glad to hear that tip helped you just like it has helped me many times. :)

  • Roman Soluk February 19, 2013, 9:20 pm

    Hi Henrik,
    Whenever I see the word Optimism, it’s like a magnet for my eyes. Thanks for your helpful tips and really interesting and amazing post.

  • Hani February 20, 2013, 9:25 pm

    It’s never too late to make a difference in your life. Some people start at the age of 40 (me), and am enjoying quite a difference once I decided I want to change my life.

    Thanks for such a great post.

    • Henrik Edberg February 22, 2013, 3:57 pm

      That is just wonderful to hear, thank you for sharing!

  • Mike Alt February 22, 2013, 2:13 am

    Great post Henrick! I have to say that being positive is always that first step towards doing something exceptional. If you don’t go into an activity or a goal with a positive attitude then you are likely to fall flat on your face and be doomed from the start. However, positivity breeds success. Those who believe they can do something or make a change for the better, often times end up doing just that. I will definitely keep your points in mind. Thanks!

    • Henrik Edberg February 22, 2013, 3:58 pm

      Thanks for the kind words and for adding your experience, Mike!

  • Ben February 22, 2013, 7:30 am

    Hi Henrik,
    I like the first quote the best as it seems to apply the most to me. I know i’ve spent so much time in the past thinking “damn if I only started earlier” or “If I did this months ago where would I be now” which discourages me with starting at times. But i’ve got to look at is as a new change i’m making and if I make those changes today I WILL be further ahead in a few months from now and this time will be different.

    My current challenge is taking up an exercise program instead of beating myself up for not doing it sooner, i’ve got to look to the positive benefit in the future.


  • Jimmy Kang February 23, 2013, 12:12 am

    Such a good message at a stressful time. Thank you for this article :)

  • Diana February 23, 2013, 7:49 pm

    Hi Henrik, What great tips! love them. Step 4. is a great one, taking one small step today towards something bigger, as we never want to do the work in between getting the end result :) Thanks again.

  • Stevie P February 23, 2013, 8:58 pm

    Thanks for this post! Love it. Definitely bookmarking this blog.

  • Nirvana February 25, 2013, 9:14 pm

    Thank you for this thought provoking blog. Reading this is makes me feel transparent! Will take heed to all your advice. Thank you

  • Conqueror February 27, 2013, 4:07 pm

    So I’m sitting here thinking what’s the difference between teenage life where we owned the world and adult life where some of us have stress and discomfort in who we are or how we view the world. I am realizing the only difference is my ability to not take things personally, or to not care what others may think, or judge me for. That ability has faded somewhat in the confidence area of life.
    When I was younger, I did not worry what others thought…not that I didn’t care, but that I had faith in who I was and my intentions and I knew that if anyone were to judge me or misconstrue me, that that was not an aftermath of who I am, but an extension of who that other person is, an aftermath of their own experiences… I never took anything personal. I knew that if someone had a problem, it was more likely than not, their problem.
    So how did I get here? I know that I have made mistakes and done things I am not proud of. I’ve probably hurt others, knowing they would get hurt, but not with intention to hurt them. So I, caring as I am, had somehow decided to hold it against myself, to judge my own self, my intentions, and my worth… Being this way is not helping me be happy, and as I age, I realize more and more that this is not the life I had envisioned for myself.
    So, I am faced with choices, as we all are free to make choices, and I am ready for change. I know 1 choice is to continue down this same road I have been going and to continue to feel self doubt, concern for others opinions and taking too much personally… My 2nd choice is to release myself from all feelings of contempt for my past decisions, all shame I have held onto for any hurt that I have caused the people I love, all self doubt that I have accumulated or learned over the past years of adulthood… So, I know all too easily that 1 path leads me to true happiness and the other to misery (really), worrying, wondering, and not being truly me.
    So, here goes… I love my family. Anything I have ever done that has caused hurt or pain in any of their lives, I never meant to hurt anyone. I AM not perfect and I will never be perfect. I forgive anything they have said or done to me that has ever caused me pain. They are not perfect. We are all human and our flaws and differences, our mistakes and misunderstandings are what makes living possible and diverse. I vow that from this day forward I will not doubt myself, I will not take things personally and I will not judge others for what they do. I will love and care for the people I want in my life and I will always know my worth.
    I do this for me, I do this for my beautiful daughter, my wonderful “husband”, and my incredible family. I do this for my happiness, my own peace and the peace of all who surround me. I do this knowing that not only will it affect me and my life but it WILL make a difference for the others around me. I do not need to know the difference I make or reap rewards for any affects it has, I simply will have faith that all I do WILL make a difference in all the lives of who’s paths I cross… a Positive difference.

  • Toni February 28, 2013, 12:27 pm

    Your articles and blog are such a great help. Thank you. I have issues with stress and anxiety and lately have been feeling very unhappy. I just stumbled across your website and have been on it for hours reading all the useful tips and advice. It’s the support I’ve needed.
    I feel so much better about life and how to deal with stress already.
    How are you not famous?! You would send so many psychiatrists, psychologists and antidepressant companies broke! haha

  • Shyra Smith March 1, 2013, 6:25 am

    Excellent tips you shared Henrik. These tips are very helpful in every phase of our life. It’s true no matter what we should try to do something productive everyday rather than wasting our times worrying over something that may not even happen. We just need to take the first baby step, no matter how small. If only we try to do something positive, life will give something positive in return. That’s what I believe.

  • Erick March 9, 2013, 4:35 pm

    Somewhre I read that “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change”. Not many of us want to follow this path but when I do it always leads to a better outcome that I can build on till the next time…

  • Poonam shastri March 18, 2013, 6:08 pm

    i like to read your articles :)