Tough Change Made Easy: Adopt an Optimist’s Attitude

08/31/2016 03:53 pm ET

Change is tough. Especially when you didn’t ask for it, don’t want it and are now stuck with it.

But here’s the thing: if you adopt an optimist’s attitude toward life’s ups and downs – especially the downs – change can become something you welcome. Truly.

An optimist, simply put, is a person who has a hopeful and confident attitude toward the future. Hope and trust that there can be a better tomorrow, no matter how bleak today looks, is what allows you to turn from whatever disaster, crisis, misfortune or mistake that happened today to a positive possibility tomorrow.

Take, for example, Michael Vaudreuil, married, with three children, who not only lost his plastering business, his home and his car during the recession, but also had to deal with his mom’s passing at the same time. Talk about change you don’t want. Many of us would be tempted to give in, give up, and essentially lose that forward movement so essential to life.

Instead, Mr. Vaudreuil took work as the night janitor at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in , and – if only at first to take his mind off his troubles – enrolled in the free classes offered to WPI employees. Eight years later, he graduated with Bachelor’s of Science in mechanical engineering, a degree that offers him many job opportunities. His life is no doubt very different from how he had envisioned it before, but it is now – once again – a good life.

But how do you get there? How, in the midst of “bleak” do you turn towards “positive possible”?

The mind is a funny thing. It goes where you tell it to go. So if you’re dwelling on the “ain’t it awful” side of things, you literally won’t perceive the opportunities and resources that might be there for you. That’s why it’s so important to set aside your doom and gloom thoughts as soon as you can, and deliberately, proactively, set your sights on “What’s possible here? What options, other approaches, resources might be available to me?”

And then, engage the great secret of optimists everywhere; stick with it. You can’t ask “What’s possible here? What other options or resources can I find?” and give up when the first one or two or three don’t pan out. Optimists remain hopeful and confident about tomorrow even when tomorrow takes a while in coming.

It took Mr. Vaudreuil eight years to get his degree. Eight years of working a night shift, studying, taking exams, eight years during which he had to keep the faith that it would pay off. And he wasn’t exactly a youngster at the time. Mr. Vaudreuil graduated at age 54, a time when many people are starting to think about retirement.

Life is going to present us with changes, as it has, all along the way. Many unexpected, and often unwanted – at least initially. We can learn to accept change, or we can buck against it. More than accept it, we can adopt that hopeful and confident attitude which will open our minds to the many ways in which our future can be bright and joyous.

We can tackle touch change successfully – as optimists!

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