15 Ways To Become An Optimist

Optimism doesn’t come easy for everyone. Some people are prone to pessimism in life based on their experiences.

But not thinking the best things can happen in life can cause you to miss out on opportunities. A study on luck found that those who thought they were lucky tended to be successful in finding a specific word in a newspaper than those who thought they weren’t.

When you choose to think more positively, it can benefit you in many ways. If you want to feel more peace of mind, get better sleep, and improve your well-being, try these 15 ways to become an optimist.

1. Keep your mind on success

We often feel more comfortable acknowledging and applauding other people’s accomplishments more than our own.

In fact, we tend to be very modest in downplaying how much success we’ve achieved. While it’s good not to be arrogant about your work, it’s important to give yourself some credit for what you’ve done.

Make a habit of reminding yourself all of the things that you’ve achieved and are on the way to achieving.

Stop listening so much to the voice of your inner critic. Instead, spend time reflecting on past achievements.

Be intentional about appreciating your successes in life and everything that you know you can offer to others.

2. Be nostalgic

A study conducted by the University of Southampton found that nostalgia can increase optimism in people.

When participants were asked to write down nostalgic events or listen to nostalgic music they felt more optimistic afterwards.

The feeling of nostalgia was even found to help raise people’s self-esteem. Try looking back on things that made you feel good in the past to feel more optimistic now.

3. Wash your hands

As strange as it may seem, University of Cologne researchers found that washing your hands makes you optimistic.

People who washed their hands after doing a difficult task were more optimistic that they’d do better than those who didn’t.

The next time you feel negative about something, try washing your hands.

4. Come up with positive mantras

Happiness is not solely based on external possessions. You can hold yourself back from experiencing joy if you’re constantly thinking negative thoughts throughout your day.

It’s important to avoid thoughts such as “I’m not good enough” or “I’m not attractive enough”. Change these messages in your mind to more positive ones such as “you are enough”.

Get in the habit of thinking something positive in response to every negative thought that pops in your mind.

You can write down your positive mantras and consistently think and speak them throughout your day.

5. Have role models

It’s easier to develop an optimist’s mindset when you have a positive role model who influences you to be positive.

It doesn’t have to be a celebrity. It can be one of your family members, a close friend, or perhaps even a colleague.

Choose someone who you know is a cheerful and determined person when faced with challenges. A good exercise you can try is imagining that you’re walking in their shoes.

Anytime you have an urge to start thinking negative when you’re dealing with a difficult situation, think to yourself, “what would my positive role model do?”

Once you’ve come to an honest answer, then do your best to respond in that manner.

6. Stop predicting the future

During the moments in life when things don’t go right, an optimist will view the moment as an isolated incident.

A pessimist is more likely to see bad luck as a pattern and believe that if something bad happens once, it’s going to happen again.

Nonetheless, it’s best not to predict the future based on what happened in the past. If you fail on a test, if plans fail, or if a relationship fails, none of those things mean you are a failure.

Something disappointing happening once does not indicate a disappointment will happen again. Do your best to just live in the moment and take life as it comes.

7. Find the positive

Believe it or not, it’s not the events in our lives that determine our happiness. It’s how we choose to react and interpret those events.

Sometimes you’ll be able to change bad moments in life and other times you won’t. Despite that, as Maya Angelou once expressed, if you can’t change something, then change your attitude.

Change your response. The next time something negative happens, find the positive of the situation. Focus on the good and think about what you can learn from the bad situation.

Perhaps what you’re going through is making you more resilient. Maybe it’s helping you gain some inner-strength.

It might even be bringing you closer to your family or friends in life through sharing your struggle. Ultimately, adversity helps you to learn more about yourself.

You learn how much you can handle in life, which makes you more confident to handle things in the future.

You gain a deeper understanding of what you really want in life, giving you a clearer direction of how to move forward.

In the negative moments, do your best to think about what you’ve learned from going through the experience.

8. Have a gratitude journal

Negative things tend to keep our attention when they happen. It can be complicated trying to escape it in our mind.

Maybe you woke up late because your alarm didn’t work. Perhaps you ended up being late for school or work and now you’re starting your day in a bad mood.

Interestingly though, we seem to overlook so many times we wake up to things that are still here and still going right.

When was the last time you were grateful for your alarm working, or thankful that you arrived at your destination not only on time, but with minutes to spare?

You can consciously choose to think and reflect on the things that are going right and making you happy in life.

With a gratitude journal, every morning or night, you can write down everything that you can be thankful for in your day.

9. Be surrounded by positivity

Negative people will drain you. They often focus on the bad in every situation and that ends up influencing you to focus on negative things.

While it may seem difficult to do, for the sake of your well-being, you need to avoid or limit your interactions with negative people as much as possible.

Try your best to have a positive circle of people that influence you to be thankful for the good that’s in your life.

Additionally, try to keep the content you consume primarily positive too. Read books that uplift you. Listen to music that makes you feel good.

Watch tv shows or movies that promote a positive message. You don’t have to make everything be positive, because of course we do live in a world where bad things happen.

Just don’t focus on those things all the time. You might benefit from reading this helpful article on why you should stop watching the news.

10. Focus on solutions

A pessimist will usually just stay stuck on complaining about their problems. An optimist focuses more on finding a solution to the problem.

Dwelling on disappointment will not change the situation you’re dealing with. Even if what you’re experiencing is unfair and you’re tempted to just vent on it, what happened will still have happened.

You need to let go of what has become the past, and figure out what you can do now to make your situation better. Try limiting yourself to just a few minutes of complaining after something has happened.

Once the time you’ve given yourself is up, then start brainstorming things you can do that’ll make you happier about the situation.

11. Challenge your negative thinking

Negative thoughts can stem from having doubts, low self-esteem, and fears. Remember just because you have a negative thought doesn’t mean it’s right or true.

Psychologists often teach their patients about cognitive behavioral therapy, which is a tool that helps you re-frame your thinking about how you perceive situations in life.

You have the power to decide what thoughts you accept and believe in and which ones you don’t. Question what proof or evidence there is in the thought that comes up in your mind.

Perhaps you could choose to do actions in contrast to those thoughts and prove them wrong.

12. Avoid dwelling on your past

As mentioned earlier, once something negative has happened, it’s in the past. No amount of focusing on it will bring that back to the present and allow you to change how things worked out.

So, try to avoid blaming others or yourself for unfortunate events in life. Tomorrow is a new day where good things can happen.

As long as you’re still here, there’s always a possibility that you can experience better moments ahead.

You just need to keep your mindset believing in that so you can be aware of opportunities that come up.

13. Fake the feeling

Psychological research has found that even when you fake a smile it’ll still increase dopamine in your body and might trick your brain into thinking you’re happy.

There’s real truth into the idea of faking it until you make it. Now I know some of you may be apprehensive to this idea because you think you’re forcing yourself to feel something.

Look at it as you trying to guide yourself towards a positive mental attitude. You can still acknowledge you have negative thoughts and feelings inside.

You can tell yourself, “I know I have these negative thoughts and feelings; I acknowledge and respect them, and I also want to try thinking and feeling optimistic.”

You’re not forcing a feeling if it’s one that you actually want to try having. And there may be moments in life where you’re not ready to think or feel positive about something.

Give yourself time and when you’re ready, know you have the power to make that choice to feel optimistic through choosing to think positive thoughts and choosing to do positive actions.

14. Be more mindful

In the Journal of the American Psychosomatic Society, it was found that just a few months of practicing mindfulness made high-stressed workers more optimistic than they previously were.

It proved that people can change how their brains respond to certain experiences. You can train yourself to be more optimistic even if you aren’t naturally that way.

15. Think about the best outcomes

Think of different areas of your life and think about the best possible outcomes that could occur. According to Harvard Researchers, just doing that can make you more optimistic.

You can write down positive outcomes that can happen in your career, relationships, and other areas of your life.

Let this become a habit that over time that transforms your outlook on life.

Final thoughts on being optimistic

Sometimes optimism takes work, even for those of us who are naturally optimistic. The good news is none of us have to be perfect at positivity.

We’ll have days where we struggle to rise to the level of positivity we desire and that’s okay. You just try to be optimistic as much as you can.

With practice and consistency, you can become better at making optimism a regular part of your character.

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