By Karen Childress

“Why are you so negative all the time?”

“You just need to look for the good in people.”

“The glass isn’t always half empty, you know.”

“Look on the bright side.”

“This isn’t the end of the world.”

If you routinely hear phrases like this coming from people who know you well — your spouse, practice partner, office manager or even your children — it may be time to work on building up your optimism muscle. The dictionary definition of optimism is, “a feeling or belief that good things will happen in the future,” but deep-seated optimism goes beyond simply the ability to maintain a sunny, hopeful outlook on life.

When something unfortunate happens to an optimist — even something serious like, for example, being named in a malpractice suit — once they get over the initial shock, they tend to approach the problem as an isolated event that requires attention.

A pessimist, on the other hand, will globalize the situation, assume the worst and let the problem cloud everything they do and think about until it’s resolved. Optimists face challenges in life just like everyone else, but they view them as temporary setbacks rather than as a judgment on their worth or evidence that all is lost. You won’t find many optimists who hang out in victim mode, at least not for very long.

You can learn to be more optimistic and doing so, according to numerous studies, can result in improved health, better relationships with others and even greater longevity. Begin your optimism exercise program by engaging in these five simple practices:

1. Go on an information diet by limiting the number of minutes or hours you listen to, read or watch the news. You can stay intelligently informed without being consumed by the media. If listening to the news on the way to work each morning puts you in a foul mood, remember that you are in control of the controls.

2. Reduce the amount of time you spend around people who are constantly complaining about the future of healthcare, the economy, politics, etc. Instead, seek out and socialize with friends and colleagues whom you consider to be reasonably satisfied and happy with their lives and careers.

3. Assess what you can and cannot control, and choose to spend less time thinking and fretting about anything that is truly beyond your realm of influence.

4. Pay attention to your thoughts. When you find yourself engaging in a negative internal dialogue, intentionally shift your thinking by asking yourself, “Is this real?” It’s entirely possible that whatever “it” is isn’t real at all, but rather a story you’re making up as you go along.

5. At least once a week, sit down and make a list of what you are grateful for and what you are looking forward to that is fun or interesting. If you have nothing on your calendar at the moment that you are happily anticipating, schedule something.

Interested in exploring optimism further? Check out these books:


Karen Childress is Colorado-based a freelance healthcare writer. Read more of her work


abeo Management Corporation (abeo) serves as a leading source of revenue cycle management and practice management with a specialization in anesthesia. The company leverages its people, processes, and software to serve independent practices, surgery centers, hospitals and healthcare systems with a scope of services that include billing, coding, transcription, practice management, and business consulting.

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