How Perspective & Optimism Can Reduce Anxiety In Surprisingly Easy Ways

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Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.

Leonard Cohen’s powerful “Anthem” lyrics have been particularly top of mind recently as I talk to people about silver linings, perspective and optimism when so many of us are fatigued by pandemic stress, and the effort to resume more normalcy alongside continued risk and uncertainty.

In a year of continuing pandemic adjustments, the negatives have clearly outweighed the positives, but a Pew study of 9000 Americans found a majority describe simultaneous negative and positive changes in their lives. This is encouraging, not because the pandemic has delivered pain and some improvements, but because a majority of us can recognize both.

Despite how hard it might be to perceive the positive in a difficult situation, the research is consistent about the advantages of trying. Not only is perceiving silver linings a key to keeping a broad perspective that can protect against despair and anxiety escalation, but finding the positive in a challenging situation draws on a powerful mental skill: our choice of perspective.

Considered a co-father of positive psychology investigating the seeds of human happiness, Martin Seligman in a recent pandemic-focused podcast reminds of the importance of maintaining perspective and optimism, along with having fun. Harnessing our perceptual choice.

While it may not always feel like we can find the good in a situation, we actually have more control over our perspective than most of us think. Whether you see the proverbial half-empty or half-full glass depends in large part on what you choose to see.

You see, how you see the world will in large part predict how you experience it. And you have more control over this than you may realize.

If we can’t change our feelings completely, we can broaden how we think about them, and thus shift how we experience them. And this is no small idea… Simply trying to see the positive can broaden your perspective, boost mental resilience, and deliver relieving emotional results when you need it most.

Taking control of your perspective and outlook might be one of the most powerful tools you have to combat negativity.

This month I’m sharing some ideas about the power of tuning in to change your experience, how to redirect your perspective especially when it comes to anxiety, and how looking for gratitudecan help cultivate more resilience and joy.

When you can see silver linings in metaphorical clouds, when you can envision a hopeful future, and when you can view yourself with compassion, you can nudge your experience closer to what you want it to be, and cultivate more joy.

As we celebrate the holidays and prepare to welcome the new year, here’s wishing you courage to look for silver linings and choose perspective and optimism whenever you can.

Happy Holidays,

Alicia

 

Looking for more help with balancing anxiety? Check out my book Hack Your Anxiety and the digital tools I’ve developed to expand the book’s concepts here, or sign up for my free mini e-course here.

Alicia H. Clark, PsyD

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