5 Intelligent Ways to be Optimistic — An Immigrant Guide

“Optimism is a strategy for making a better future. Because unless you believe that the future can be better, you are unlikely to step up and take responsibility for making it so.” — Noam Chomsky

Cambridge dictionary defines optimism as the quality of being full of hope and emphasizing the good parts of a situation, or a belief that something good will happen. In the book, The Intelligent Optimist’s Guide to Life, Jurriaan Kamp highlights a study that comes as no surprise. He concludes that there is a negative correlation between optimism levels and the likelihood that an employee would quit the company. Other non-work-related studies regularly show that optimism is correlated to more surprising things like stronger immunity, better cardiac health, and healthier overall wellbeing!

Now you ask, how can one cultivate optimism?

1. Create defined goals and focus on small victories.

The taste of success is an important aspect of staying motivated and staying the course. Once you break the roadmap to your goals into small chunks of achievable goals, they allow you to measure your progress. These little successes allow you to look back on your progress and appreciate how far you’ve come. The more goals you tick off, the more inspired you feel. In this way, little goals help you stay motivated for a long time by creating a positive feedback loop so you can tackle bigger goals and scale higher mountain peaks.

Quick Hacks — Write down your goal. Now write down all the things you have to achieve right next to the goal in the way of multiple arrows. Now pick one thing, and write the tasks to be achieved. START hitting those tasks.

E.g. Get a Dream Job

Which Job >> Data Analyst/Data Engineer/Partnerships Manager

Which Company >> List out the companies you aspire to work with

Who can help you? >> Friends, Alumni, Career Services, etc.

Create a CV >> Get feedback from people in the same domain or industry

The CV must reach the hiring manager? >> Reach out on LinkedIn, ask friends for a referral, etc… (download TIP Co.’s FREE Job Hacks HERE)

2. Be grateful.

Gratitude is a vital component to cultivating a positive mindset. Having a frustrating week at work where everything seems to be going wrong? Take a moment to pause and breathe. Think about all the things you have. Think about all the other times you’ve tackled difficult situations, and how you still made it to where you are today.

Quick Hacks — Be thankful for small things. Your taste, the trees in your neighborhood, your mother’s call, your ability to feel your hands and legs and do chores with them, the touch of your loved one and the list can go on.

3. Reflect.

Every day takes some time to self-reflect. It is very easy to often overlook our small achievements in the busyness of our days. So taking some time to stop, analyze and identify little successes. This is a key ingredient to persistence and long-term success.

Quick Hacks — Writing in a journal, speaking to a friend who you know would ask you thoughtful questions, going for a walk and thinking out loud, participating in Meetups or community classes, or easiest, thinking about 3 good things that happened to you in the day while you hit the pillow at night.

4. Don’t take things too seriously

Learning to analyze a problem from different angles is key to problem-solving, however, it is also sometimes a road map to hell. Equally important to learning is to take a step back and look at the issue from a wider perspective. Often, we get carried away in the heat of the moment and tend to magnify little problems. Stepping back allows you to untangle from the situation and work on the problem from a detached perspective. At the end of the day, remember peace is the goal.

Quick Hacks — In a tense situation, take a 5-second deep breath, now hold for 4 seconds, and release slowly through the 3 seconds. Repeat a few times. Another way to step back is to stand up and do 10 push-ups, burpees, or jumping jacks. When you change your physiology, a change in psychology follows.

5. There is always a way.

Time and time again humans have proven themselves to be intelligent creatures, not simply by surviving but thriving. Given, the problems in our workplace are not to be compared to the survival problems that our ancestors used to face, but let’s accept a few things. We are smart. We have always found solutions to all kinds of problems in the past. In The Intelligent Optimist’s Guide to Life, Jurriaan Kamp says, “There are not enough problems to all the solutions that we are capable of coming up with”. I agree with him. Perhaps it is a matter of slowing down. Perhaps it is a matter of looking around —a solution is always around the corner.

Quick Hacks — List down all the problems that you have currently. Now write the worst-case scenario next to each of these problems. Is the worst-case scenario THAT bad? If not, now you are at peace. If the worst-case scenario is bad, now you know which problem to address first. Go back to point 1, and rinse and repeat.

If the reasons I’ve mentioned weren’t enough, I’ll give you just one more that should really get the point across. One of our Immigrant Masterclass speakers TIP, JuJu Xu exemplifies the power of optimism through her story. From having no resources or a background in Artificial Intelligence (AI) to having to go through the hurdle of the US Visa process to building a world-class AI team, JJ with much optimism is building TalkMeUp, an AI-based software company focused on tackling the $100B corporate training market.

Suggested reads

The Intelligent Optimist’s Guide to Life: How to Find Health and Success in a World That’s a Better Place Than You Think. by Jurriaan Kamp

Learned Optimism by Martin E.P. Seligman

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The blog post was written by B.Bandhavya, the associate content creator at TIP. Bandhavya is a full-time Veterinarian doctor from Andhra Pradesh, a state in the south of India. Now that she has her graduate degree out of her way, she decided to invest her energy into rediscovering and cultivating interests that she had to put on a hold for long — writing, painting, traveling, exploring, and eating. She is currently obsessed with historical documentaries while she chills with her fur babies.

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