How to Be More Optimistic (And Why It's Important)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published June 27, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Becoming more optimistic can help you view people, situations, and tasks with a more positive outlook. People who are optimists can reduce their stress levels, improve their productivity, and have more fulfilling experiences. Regardless of which industry and role you're in, you can benefit from learning how to develop an optimistic mindset. In this article, we discuss what optimism is, share how to be more optimistic in 15 steps, and explain why being optimistic is important.

What is optimism?

Optimism is a mindset that enables people to understand and focus on the positive aspects of situations. An optimist maintains a productive attitude and takes actionable steps, even during challenging circumstances. For example, if an optimist doesn't get the promotion they hoped for, they might view it as a learning experience, which encourages them to work harder in the future. An optimist knows challenges are temporary and continues to have hope that situations can improve in the future. For example, if an organization continuously loses talent, an optimist might reassure others and look for ways to solve the problem.

How to be more optimistic

While you can take steps to be more optimistic, different strategies may work better for everyone. Consider trying these steps to see which strategies are most effective in developing an optimistic mindset. Here are 15 steps you can try:

1. Acknowledge what's beyond your control

To become more optimistic, it's helpful to acknowledge and accept that you may not be able to change all scenarios or outcomes. When you recognize some events are beyond your control, you can learn to focus on the aspects of your life or within the world that you can influence. For example, instead of focusing on the daily task at work that you dislike, you might accept that it's your responsibility and look forward to other tasks you enjoy more.

2. Begin your day with positive expectations

You can start your day by thinking about what you hope to accomplish. This gives you time to review both what you want to achieve that day and what you hope to accomplish long term. Beginning your day with positive visualizations can improve your mood and help you achieve more.

3. Be positive around others

Strive to have positive interactions with other people. Try giving others genuine compliments and acknowledging their successes. Some positive interactions may acknowledge negative situations but ultimately focus on the beneficial aspects. For example, if a coworker feels upset, you can try to comfort them and find a solution to their problem instead of only commiserating.

4. Consciously think positive thoughts

Purposefully thinking positively can help train your brain over time to provide more positive messages and beliefs naturally. One tactic you can use is reframing your thoughts that are not happy or hopeful. For example, if you think I can't do this, see if you can alter this negative thought into positive self-talk instead. Some positive alternatives include:

  • I have bested other challenges before, so I'm sure I can overcome this one too.

  • I might make some mistakes, but I can learn from them and keep making progress.

  • I may not have done this before, but I'm confident I can succeed.

Related: How to Maintain a Positive Attitude at Work and Home

5. Create a new bedtime routine

Before going to sleep, consider the events that went well during your day. Think about your accomplishments, both minor and significant, including parts of the day you enjoyed. Ending your day with positive emotions and thoughts might help you sleep better and wake up in a happier mood.

Read more: How to Wake Up Early (And Why It Makes a Difference)

6. Create positive mantras

Develop positive mantras, affirmations, or aphorisms for yourself. An affirmation is a message you repeat to yourself throughout the day that has a positive meaning. You can write your mantras in a journal and read them regularly, or simply think about them. Here are some examples of positive mantras for you to use or modify for yourself:

  • I am learning and growing every day.

  • My challenges help me learn and develop.

  • I am worth more than my mistakes.

  • This is going to be okay, eventually.

7. Debate any negative thoughts

Try debating with your negative thoughts or emotions. When you have a negative thought that's persistent, write arguments in support of and against that negative thought. For example, if you think, This task is too difficult, you can write that thought down along with evidence that both reinforces or negates that thought. Recording these arguments for and against negative thoughts can help you approach situations with greater objectivity.

8. Do activities you enjoy

Spend time on hobbies or interests that naturally improve your mood or make you laugh. Pursuing activities you enjoy can help you reduce stress levels. When you feel more joyful, it can become easier to look at situations from a positive point of view.

Read more: Fun Activities at Work to Increase Employee Engagement

9. Fantasize about a positive future

Imagine a positive future for yourself. Consider your hopes for tomorrow, next week, or even years from now. Visualizing your future through an optimistic perspective can improve your mood, help you set goals, and give you a greater sense of purpose in your daily actions. You might write your visions for your future in a journal.

Read more: Interview Question: What Are Your Plans for the Future?

10. Find the positive in challenging situations

Look for the positive aspects even when facing a challenge in your life. Optimists understand there can be benefits to difficult situations. For example, if you missed a deadline for a work project, focus on what you learned from the experience, such as better productivity strategies you can use in the future.

11. Give yourself positive feedback

It's beneficial to incorporate positive feedback for yourself into your thoughts. Congratulate yourself on your achievements, even if they seem routine or unimportant. You might find it helpful to think of yourself as having an inner coach continually cheering you on and helping you grow.

Read more: Giving and Receiving Meaningful Peer Feedback (With Tips)

12. Increase your likelihood of achieving success

Improve your ability to succeed by minimizing your obstacles. For example, if you find yourself frequently distracted by the internet, you might download a productivity app that limits your time on the web. Optimists are more likely to make progress on various tasks, projects, or personal goals. Increasing your ability to succeed can help you achieve more and feel more positive about your accomplishments.

Related: How to Measure Success in 7 Actionable Steps

13. Limit your consumption of the news

Minimize how often you read, watch, or listen to the news. While it's important to stay informed about the world, most news media discuss negative topics or subjects from a negative angle. Consuming too much news can make you feel discouraged or hinder your positive outlook on life. Consider setting a time limit for how much news you consume regularly. Choosing only to receive your news from a few reputable sources can also help you reduce the amount of news you read or watch daily.

14. Make progress on your goals

Strive for consistent progress toward your long-term goals. Separate your larger ambitions into smaller tasks so you can notice and celebrate each milestone. For example, if you want to learn a new language, set smaller objectives related to the larger goal, such as learning to say numbers or have a basic conversation. Keep track of the progress you make each day, so you have a record of your improvements.

15. Practise mindfulness

It's helpful to incorporate mindfulness techniques into your daily life. Mindfulness is the ability to be fully conscious of your situation or surroundings at any moment. Some people practise mindfulness through meditation sessions, journal writing, or yoga classes. You can also try mindfulness during your everyday tasks. Take a few moments to relax, close your eyes, and listen to your breathing. Observe any feelings, thoughts, or physical sensations without judgment. Learning to acknowledge your emotions and then move on can help you let go of negative feelings or thoughts.

Read more: How to Improve Self-awareness (With Steps and Tips)

Why is optimism important?

Optimism is important because it may provide various benefits for your mental, physical, and emotional health, which include:

  • Better physical health: Some studies suggest that optimists have lower risks of stroke, heart disease, and other medical conditions related to the heart and blood system. Optimists may also have stronger immune systems to fight germs or diseases more effectively.

  • Higher-income: People who are optimists may have more positive social interactions in their work environment. The professional relationships that develop from these interactions can help them advance their careers and increase their salaries.

  • Increased productivity: During challenging situations, optimists focus more on solutions than on the problem itself. This focus can help optimists develop action-oriented plans that boost their productivity.

  • Minimization of stress: Optimists focus on the positive aspects of life and the surrounding circumstances, reducing their stress levels.

  • More fulfilling experiences: Optimists may have an easier time being mentally present as stress and anxiety are less likely to distract them. An optimistic outlook can help individuals derive more enjoyment from their careers, relationships, hobbies, and other aspects of their lives.

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