How can one expect the unexpected? How can we expect something, by definition, we did not expect? Regardless of semantics, the sentiment of the expression is to be open or prepared for the unexpected. If you’re expecting the unexpected, you’ll be ready for any changes to your plans.
While having plans and goal setting can provide structure and help us reach our objectives, we also need to be flexible and adaptable when our plans don’t unfold in ways that we expect.
When we are convinced that we should be able to control the outcome of events, we set ourselves up for disappointment. What may be unrealistic expectations can lead to feelings of failure when the anticipated success doesn’t happen. Any problems may be quickly compounded if we are not prepared to take action on unexpected challenges.
When you are too tied to a specific outcome, you limit your possibilities and options. Allow yourself to be delighted – rather than annoyed – by surprises that happen to what you envision as your perfect plan. Approach these surprises with curiosity, wondering where they lead. Recall a time in your past when a surprise led to a much better outcome than you could have planned or imagined.
Action in response to the unexpected will bring new options and will open possibilities that may have been previously unavailable. Think of your life as a puzzle and each time you take action, you are given a new puzzle piece. Many action steps will give you more puzzle pieces and gradually, your picture will become clearer and more identifiable.
Adjusting to the unexpected can be a challenge but it is easier if you maintain an optimistic attitude, a belief that your experiences are helping you stretch and grow as a person. You might even admit that your imagined future was safe and comfortable and would allow less room for personal growth. Look back on your life at those times when you were challenged in a way that you would not have chosen for yourself. From your vantage point now, would you give up the wisdom you gained, despite the costs to you?
Keep your options open and expect the unexpected. Be especially gentle and kind to yourself when life is not following your blueprint. Congratulate yourself on your efforts and consider your life a great adventure rather than a life measured solely by defined and carefully planned outcomes.
Are you a pessimist? Do you have a tendency to expect the worst to happen? Although a pessimistic attitude may seem to be an unchangeable character trait, one, in fact, can make a choice between pessimism and optimism. There are practical self-improvement techniques to make it easier to develop a positive attitude and undo lifelong habits of pessimism. This article will present three ways to help you become more optimistic.
Optimists have an outlook on life that is generally more positive and they know and value hope. Studies show that pessimists give up more easily and get depressed more often. Optimists, on the other hand, have superior stress management skills and do better in school and at work. Evidence suggests that optimists may even live longer. These are compelling reasons to become more optimistic!
One way to help convert from pessimism to optimism is to practice looking for the silver lining in problems. Optimists tend to look for the positives in situations that don’t work out while pessimists use those same situations to reinforce their expectations of failure. Do you have a tendency to magnify the negative aspects of a situation and overlook any positive ones? Rather than automatically focusing on the worst, take a second look to see if there are any positive aspects in a difficult situation.
Don’t wait for a problem to happen but start now to get into the habit of seeing positives in every situation. Additionally, make an effort to create some experiences of happiness. Brief, happy moments can help strengthen your sense that life can be good and you can draw on these feelings in more difficult times.
A second way to create more optimism is to review your past accomplishments. Identify your top five personal and work-related accomplishments and the strengths you used to achieve them. Use this review to affirm for yourself that you are capable and competent. Apply the confidence gained from reviewing your strengths and accomplishments to increase your optimism in your capabilities to impact the future.
A third way to increase optimism is to watch your language! The words we use help to create and shape our reality. Avoid negative self-talk – stop using phrases such as “I can’t” and “This will never work.” Challenge your negative self-talk and turn these statements into questions such as “How can I handle this?” and “What can I do?’. Not only are these questions more hopeful, they invite new options and possibilities.
Pay special attention to how you talk to yourself and make a concentrated effort to treat yourself as well as you would treat a friend or loved one. Don’t say anything to yourself that you wouldn’t say to anyone else. Be gentle and encouraging with yourself. When a negative thought enters your mind, turn it around to something to something more positive.
In conclusion, there are specific techniques you can use to convert from a pessimistic attitude to a more optimistic one. These techniques include highlighting the positive; using your past accomplishments and strengths to fuel your optimism in the future; and deliberately replacing negative self-talk with more positive messages.
As with changing any habit, it may take practice to defeat pessimism but your self-development efforts will prove worthwhile as you gain the positive health and social benefits of optimism.