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Optimism: Good for Us and Contagious

Date: December 01, 2021

Author: Natalie Bradley

A smile can change your life. A phrase we might be familiar with for our patients.... but what about us as dental professionals and students?

The power of a smile and optimism can not only change our life, but the lives of the people around us - both professionally and personally. Optimism is not only good for us, it's also contagious. The optimism of one individual, particularly if that person is an extrovert, can take over an entire team, group or even within a family unit. We probably work with, come into contact with, maybe even live with pessimists too.

However, you can overcome pessimism through small acts of kindness and optimism, and a smile can make a huge difference for individuals and communities.

Colgate's Power of Optimism showcases young people who have gone out and done that. Who have seen ways in which they can help, to bring their skills, knowledge and passion to projects which spread optimism through their communities. From delivering groceries to the elderly and vulnerable, 3D printing PPE for frontline staff during the pandemic, or creating comics to help empower disabled children and promote inclusivity. These persistent, solution-focused mindsets from young people have had not only a positive impact for the individual, but a big impact on their communities and organizations.

Particularly when studying, it can be hard to remain optimistic and keep smiling. To keep up optimism as a dental student, taking lessons from the Power of Optimism, you should:

  1. Be kind to yourself. Practice self-compassion, don't beat yourself up for not being top of every class, don't burn yourself out.

  2. Don't run from worry and stress. There is plenty of this at dental school and you can't get away from it. Instead, create boundaries to manage stress and carve out time where you are able to unwind and destress.

  3. Find a small point of growth in any situation - every patient interaction, every clinical procedure. What can you learn? Be proud of yourself for the small things - for making others smile!

  4. Put your thoughts to paper - journaling can be therapeutic and can help declutter your mind.

  5. Focus on awe-inspiring moments. Really appreciate those moments with your patients where you might have made a difference for them, or when they've opened up to you when you've inspired their trust. But also appreciate those moments outside of dentistry - whether that be enjoying a piece of music, experiencing nature, or spending time with family and friends.

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