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Written by: Andrew Mitchell

Photography by: Michael Drahms

Optimistic in difficult times

Hard times produce stress that distracts us from family and business.  With everything that’s going on in the world, from elections to civil unrest to pandemics, it can feel like the sky is falling down on us sometimes.

As if that weren’t enough, we’re all expected to keep ourselves financially afloat, get our kids through school and pay taxes.

All of these things are real stress multipliers, and there is limited external help to relieve any of it.

That’s why it’s so important for each of us individually to look inside, dig deep and find our optimism.  For our kids, for our business, for our planet and for ourselves.

I’ve put together a short list of tips that I follow personally that help me stay optimistic every day. 

5 tips to stay optimistic in difficult times

#1 Write in a journal

It’s never too late to start a journal.  In the morning when I wake up, one of the first things that I do is write what’s called a 5-Minute journal entry.  Every thought, feeling, emotion, idea or whatever gets airtime in my morning journal entry.  Sometimes, if I’ve had a really eventful day, I’ll write another journal entry right before bedtime to clear my head so that I can sleep better.

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#2 Listen more

This is something that I actively work on every day, because it doesn’t come naturally to me.  I’m a hustler and a mover, so my default is talking.  But I promise you that if you talk less and listen more, you will decrease your stress and increase your optimism by orders of magnitude.

The reason is simple: when we talk, we’re not taking in any new information, we’re giving information.  When we listen, really listen, we take in information, which engages our brain into thinking mode.  When we think, we come up with new ideas, and new ideas lead to optimism.

#3 Analyze your business and pivot if necessary

This one is specifically speaking to business owners, but could be applied to any situation where you desire a specific outcome: sometimes your business needs to change.

If you’re experiencing decreased sales due to the pandemic, you need to understand what the weakness is in your business and strengthen it.  For professional estate sale companies, maybe you’re experiencing less attendance at your sales.

For a brick-and-mortar bakery, maybe you’re negatively affected by the increase in online grocery fulfillment options.

Think about what’s causing your business pain and make changes to thrive.  Maybe offer shipping.  Maybe pursue partnerships with grocery stores and farmers markets.  Distribution is a solvable problem.  Stay optimistic and pivot if necessary!

An American Beech tree growing at a place called the Salt Spring in Somerset, NY

Thriving under difficult circumstances

This is an American Beech tree growing at a place called the Salt Spring in Somerset, NY. In the summer the creek dries out and exposes the scoured roots along the bank. It’s not in the ideal environment for growing but it took those difficult conditions and found a way to thrive.

#4 Follow a routine

This is a tried-and-true tip that you’ll find everywhere on the internet: follow a routine.  Physiology matters when it comes to optimism.  Being optimistic requires a certain level of stasis between your body, mind and soul.

If you have ever used the excuse “I’m just having a bad day” before, then what you’re experiencing is yourself recognizing that something is off. 

Getting yourself into some form of daily routine will produce more “I got this” days and less “I’m not feeling it” days.

#5 Cut out unhealthy habits

This one is arguably the hardest for most of us.  We like our vices.  But at some point, the illusion of optimism that these things produce eventually fades and that can leave us in a very tough position, especially if we’re trying to be optimistic for our families, businesses and ourselves. 

If cutting these things out (and you know what they are) isn’t an option, then drastically cut them back.  We all need space within ourselves for optimism to fill up, so take out the trash and make some room for optimism!

Conclusion

Staying optimistic during difficult times is ironically one of the most difficult things we as parents, business owners, friends and citizens can do. 

But it’s so critical that we figure it out, for ourselves and for each other.

I hope that you found this useful, and I wish the best for you as you make your way toward a future that is rich, full of life and optimistic!

Andrew Mitchell – Founder & CEO at Yardaroo

Twitter: @yardaroodude

Instagram: @yardaroodude

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