20 Methods To Learn Optimism

By Stephanie Kirby|Updated February 4, 2020
CheckedMedically Reviewed By Heather Cashell, LCSW

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Nearly everyone wishes to be more optimistic. In today's world and political landscape, it can be difficult to overcome the stressors and negativity to be an optimist. But, if you can learn optimism, you can reap some great benefits.

There are definite perks that come with being an optimist, both mentally and physically. Studies have proven that optimists are healthier both in mind and body. While too much forced optimism is unhealthy and can cause you to make poor decisions, a healthy dose of optimism can greatly improve your life.

Regardless of how negative you tend to be, or your life seems to progress, you can learn optimism. It is all about changing your mindset and the way you think. It is also about controlling your environment and what you are exposed to. Mostly, to learn optimism, you have to be willing to focus on the positive in the world.

Consider What Went Well

You can start to learn optimism by beginning some routine habits. At the end of every day, consider what went well. Think over the day and be grateful for everything that went as planned or as best as it could.

Do not allow yourself to dwell on the negative things that happened over the day. They may creep into your thoughts as you review your day, but they are not for this exercise. Put those negative thoughts out of your mind and focus only on the positive.

Focus On Goals And Expectations

Another habit to start is to focus each morning on your goals and expectations for the day. Do not allow yourself to think, "what if this goes wrong?" or "what if this negative thing happens?" Instead, think about what you want to accomplish for the day.

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Setting goals and reasonable expectations for your day can also help you be more productive. Setting realistic expectations for how the day will progress will also help you be more positive and optimistic. It is easy to see the good when you set reasonable expectations rather than expecting everything to be perfect.

Record Daily Progress

You should also be recording your progress daily. Any time you want to make a drastic change in the way you think and process information, you should be keeping a journal. Journaling helps you ruminate on the positive changes you are trying to make, and helps you track your progress. Record in your journal every morning and evening.

Practice Gratitude

Another habit to start is to practice gratitude. When you intentionally find things to be grateful for it helps you see the positive in a topsy-turvy world. Each morning or evening, at least once per day, sit and think about what you have to be thankful for.

It is a good idea to write your gratitude in your journal. However, you can also enforce your habit by posting your gratitude to social media daily. Each day make a post that could include what you are grateful for, or just simply the statement "I am grateful." This reinforces the habit, increases positivity, and may even help others to be more optimistic as well.

Come Up With Solutions

When things go wrong, it can be difficult to remain optimistic. It is tempting to focus on the negative and dwell on how things have not gone as planned. However, this is the worst thing you can do when you are trying to learn optimism.

When things go wrong, don't dwell on the negativity. Instead, focus your efforts on coming up with solutions. When you come up with solutions to the problems that arise, you can shift your focus to one of positive action rather than negative rumination.

Find The Positive In Difficult Situations

It is also important to find the positive in difficult situations. When something goes wrong or doesn't go as planned, think about the positive aspects of the situation. For example, your picnic may have gotten rained out, but your garden was wilting from a lack of rain so the flowers or vegetables will greatly benefit.

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You can always find something positive about any situation if you look hard enough. Regardless of how bad things seem to be, you can find something positive about the situation. Even if that positive thing is simply that nothing else went wrong.

Take Action With What You Can Control

One of the best ways to learn optimism and stop being pessimistic or worrisome is to take action on the things that you can control. Whenever a situation arises that is less than positive, think about what is in your control. What actions can you take to make it better?

One research study was done to determine how optimism affects organizations in the workplace. They found that people who were optimistic were more productive because they took action on the things that they could control. They also found that these workplaces with high optimism had more relaxed cultures, and the employees suffered less from stress-related symptoms.

When you focus on the things you can control and let go of the things you can't, it frees your mind of negativity. It allows you to be productive and positive. You can look back and say, "I took care of that."

Surround Yourself With Optimistic People

It is true that you are who you hang out with. When you surround yourself with optimistic people, it will be easier to learn optimism yourself. You will find that when you spend time around positive people, it becomes natural to have a positive outlook yourself.

Avoid Negative Nellies

At the same time, you should avoid negative or pessimistic people. The same principle is true here. If you spend a lot of time around negative and pessimistic people, it can be hard to find the good in the world. You need to be able to avoid negativity to become optimistic about yourself.

Avoid The News And Negative Media

It is also extremely difficult to learn optimism and maintain positivity when you are constantly looking at what is wrong with the world. The news can be very upsetting, and just five minutes of national news can make you feel very pessimistic about where the world is headed.

Some media is more negative than others. By no means should you bury your head in the sand and not know what is going on in the world. But, you should be very careful about how you receive your news. Get the facts, but don't watch news and media channels that focus only on the negative.

Look Forward With Excitement And Anticipation

This method of learning optimism is all about changing your mindset. It is natural to think about the future and look forward to future events and situations. However, it is how you think of the future that makes the difference.

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Whenever you think about the future, think about it with excitement and anticipation. Think about what positivity the future holds. Whenever you find yourself worrying about the future or thinking about the negative things that might happen, shift your focus. Anticipate the good, and you will be more likely to recognize it when it happens.

Shift Your Perspective

It is all about shifting your perspective. You have to look at situations in new ways and from new angles. Nothing is black and white. There are always multiple ways to look at a situation, and the perspective you take will determine your level of optimism.

Consciously shift your perspective whenever you find yourself thinking about things negatively. When you think about something negative that has happened or might happen, shift your perspective and look at it from a different angle. What about this situation did or could go right? What are the positive aspects?

Remember That Nothing Is Permanent

Let's face it, bad things sometimes happen. No matter how optimistic you are, sometimes bad things will occur, and there's nothing you can do about it. The important thing is to not dwell on those negative situations.

Remember that nothing in this life is permanent. Whatever bad thing has happened, eventually it will no longer matter. The effects of that situation will not last forever. When you recognize that the state of negativity is only temporary, it allows you to take a more optimistic view of the present and the future.

Avoid Rumination

Rumination is your enemy when you are trying to learn optimism. Rumination is when you think about the same negative events, situations, or people over and over again. You look at it from a lot of different sides and a lot of different angles and continue to think about it even when you have exhausted these views.

When something negative happens, it is natural to think about it for a short amount of time. However, if you want to learn optimism, you can't dwell on it. If you catch yourself ruminating, immediately shift your focus to another subject, preferably one that is much more positive.

Live In The Present

Living in the present is the best way to remain optimistic. When you live in the present, you are not worried about the future. You anticipate the future and what it might hold, but your focus is what is going on in the here and now.

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Living in the present will also help you by allowing you to enjoy your life truly. When you live in the present, you can see all of the good things that are happening in your life and around you. You can focus on the positive things in your life and make lasting memories that you can look back on for years to come. When you don't live in the present, you could miss out on a lot of good things.

Acknowledge But Don't Dwell On The Negative

Even though you are trying to learn optimism, you still have to acknowledge the negative. It is unhealthy to constantly focus on the positive and never acknowledge the negative in your life or the world. This can give you unhealthy views of what life is like, and cause you to make some poor decisions.

At the same time, you don't want to dwell on the negative. Acknowledge the negative, think about how things might have been different so that you can learn from the situation, then dismiss it and move on to more positive things.

Be Realistic

Be realistic in your expectations and goals. If you have impossibly high expectations, it is much easier to see the negative when things don't go as planned. However, if you have realistic expectations, you will find that more often your expectations are met or exceeded. This allows you to maintain a much more positive point of view.

Smile Often

Smiling is proven to help boost moods and increase positivity. Even when things are not going as planned or something negative has happened, force yourself to smile. Take a time out and look up a funny comedian on a podcast or YouTube channel. Find something to laugh at, and a reason to smile.

When you can always find something to smile about, it will help lift your spirits. When you are in a good mood, you are much more likely to be optimistic about the future. If you are having a hard time finding a reason to smile, try closing your eyes and meditating on a positive memory.

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Find The Love

The most positive emotion that anyone can feel is love. Look for love in every corner of the earth. When you see something negative like an earthquake, look for the people showing love and lending a helping hand. When you feel negative about things going on in your own life, look to the people who love you for support and caring. Find the love, everywhere and in everything.

See A Therapist

If you have a hard time trying to learn optimism, you might want to seek the help of a therapist. If you find that you are always seeing the negative in every situation and spend a lot of time worrying about the future, you could suffer from negative mental health issues such as anxiety or depression. A therapist can identify the root problems and help you overcome them.

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