Someone recently asked me how I came to this career. I shared how so many loved ones had died in a few short years while I was having my children and that the new lives of my children and the death of my family members impacted me to the core of my being. She then asked, “how did you survive the grief and loss?” I didn’t hesitate for a moment when I replied, “I’ve always been an optimist. For me my cup has always been 1/2 full, even in the darkest days I knew it would get better.”
I started to reflect on this because I know I am an OPTIMIST. So, what are the traits of an optimist? When I work with people, I can see who has an optimist attitude and who does not. I am not judging but will tell you that people who are optimists move through their challenging transition whether it be beginning or end of life faster. This is not to say that they don’t feel pain because they definitely do, however, they know better days will come.
Below are 7 traits that Optimists tend to possess.
1. Gratitude – no matter how rough it gets Optimists are grateful for their life and their loved ones. They are grateful that they had a loving relationship and see the beauty in that love.
I know this to be true and I’ll share an example of my sister Leslie who died of cancer at the age of 25. I am so so grateful that I was blessed with a sister. Leslie was an amazing young woman, we were very close and shared everything with each other. When she was diagnosed, she told me that no matter what she was going to be OK – she then added, “Robbie, all I need is your love.” She lived for 2 years and in that time, we shared precious moments with each other, it was the simple things in life that we shared such as sitting by the ocean watching the waves hit the shore, or tickling my son who was one at the time (he loved that). We talked deeply about life after death and what we believed would happen – we also discussed how she would communicate with me after she died. We had a beautiful loving relationship and although she only lived 25 years, she impacted my life and continues to do so today. She taught me about love and as her health declined, she taught me about gratitude. Gratitude is huge and can move mountains.
2. Resiliency – Optimists know that it will get better and they hold onto that knowing. They are able to stay in the pain because they know that it will lesson and that there will be better days ahead. I see this all the time – they know that to go through the pain, no matter how difficult will bring rewards.
Even in the depths of my despair I knew that it would get better and I held this belief very closely. I remember I was having a difficult day and feeling very alone. I went into my closet and sat down and started to cry, actually I started sobbing. I was angry at God and was having difficulty coping with my sister, auntie, and mom’s death. I felt that they had abandoned me. As I sat sobbing, I heard my sister’s voice saying, “don’t cry we are here with you now, just in a different way – we will never leave you.” I felt this love pour over me and I knew in that moment that they were with me and that I could call on them at any time. In that moment I knew that everything was going to get better, that day I took a huge step in my healing.
3. Adaptability – Optimists have that I’m not giving up attitude. If a path they are on isn’t working they are more likely to switch gears and try something different.
Yes, yes, YES! I had lots of tough days when I was grieving where I didn’t want to get out of bed and I felt very sorry for myself. I always allowed myself to feel what I was feeling because I knew that it was important to let my emotions flow and not stuff them down. The feelings would pass and I always felt better and then I would be on my way. Some days walking in the woods made me feel better because I felt connected and grounded to the earth. Other days I was guided to practice yoga and move my body. If something wasn’t working and I felt worse I would check in and see how I could shift it. I tapped into my intuition and I trusted and allowed it to guide me.
4. Proactive – optimists try different things that are preventative in nature such as exercise and nutritious eating. They will go for a walk, take a meditation class, or try natural remedies to see which ones help them.
The biggest gift I received from the deaths of my loved ones was that health is essential and is the foundation of well-being. With health it’s all about prevention. I learnt this quickly because of all the time I spent in hospitals watching the doctors, the hospital staff, and my loved ones. I knew that my health was my responsibility and that I needed to figure out how I was going to care for myself and my children. I chose a holistic lifestyle learning how to use natural remedies such as herbs and essential oils. The more I incorporated them into my life, the happier and more balanced I became. Another benefit for me was how empowered I became and the awareness that if I wanted to have a healthy and happy life it was up to me.
5. Forgiveness — optimists don’t hold onto grudges and are likely to forgive quicker. They can see another’s point of view and may look at other possible causes of the hurtful behavior —then take a more empathetic, bigger-picture view.
When I was separated from my husband and going through the divorce it was a challenging and painful time as I’m sure many can relate to. I was grieving and often felt emotions such as relief, anger, and sadness. I let myself feel what I was feeling and then the emotion would move through me, however, I knew that for me to heal I would need to forgive him but more importantly forgive myself. I learnt and starting saying the Ho’onopono (Hawaiian forgiveness prayer) throughout the day and would repeat it at night before I went to sleep. I recommend it to all my client and anyone having difficulty forgiving. To learn about the Ho’onopono go to my blog called Forgiveness is the Key.
6. Less obsessive – optimists don’t dwell on negative situations and aren’t as likely to have obsessive looping thoughts. This is not to say that they never have looping thoughts or negative thoughts, it’s that they don’t linger and get stuck in them.
For myself I tend to forget past hurts and negative situations. I find peace with what has happened. I am not sure why but I am not one that can go back in my life and completely relive a painful experience. I used to wonder why I couldn’t remember every detail and if I was blocking it. I decided to let that go because I am extremely self-aware and notice my thoughts and what I am thinking so that if something comes up that bothers me it is up to me to deal with it and I do.
7. Good sleepers – optimists are less likely to worry and don’t lie awake all night tossing and turning or staring at the ceiling.
I have always been a great sleeper and I swear by taking a nap. When my kids were babies I knew that I needed my sleep and that I had to teach them to be good sleepers too. I regularly sleep 8 hours a night and encourage people to keep a journal beside their bed to help them get the thoughts out of their mind onto paper. Once things are written down the mind clears and quiets. When I have a lot going on in my life or are experiencing stress, I will write what is going on in my journal. I also set my intention before I go to sleep to work through whatever is bothering me in my sleep and it works.
As I was writing this blog and going through all the traits of an optimist, I realized that I embody all of these traits. I believe that I always have had them and that with my awareness I have been able to stay optimistic even in the darkest days. You have these traits too! It’s a matter of tapping into yourself, trusting your intuition, and believing that better days will come.
I know that moving through grief can be scary. Believe me, I’ve been there and I get it. Through my own personal journey and helping countless other people, I have developed my signature Platform for Well-Being system that is a proven holistic path for moving through grief with ease and reaching a balanced and happy life gracefully. If you need support during this process from someone who’s been there and come out the other side, reach out to me for a (no obligation) Discovery Session. I am here to support you.