How To Foster Increased Optimism: 15 Tips

Medically reviewed by Laura Angers Maddox, NCC, LPC
Updated May 28, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team
Want to develop a more optimistic perspective on life?

Maintaining a positive outlook can significantly influence the quality of our lives. Optimism—a state of mind characterized by hopefulness and positivity regarding the future—is thought to lead to benefits when it comes to school, work, and relationships. If you’d like to shift away from a negative mindset and take advantage of the effects of increased optimism, there are several ways you can find a new perspective and promote increased positivity. Below, we’ve gathered 15 strategies for nurturing optimism in your life. 

15 tips for fostering optimism

Studies show that optimism is linked to increased mental and physical well-being, including improvements in symptoms of anxiety, depression, and cardiovascular disease.

For those who want to take advantage of the benefits of optimism, there are ways you can gain a different perspective on life and focus on the potential positive outcomes of situations. Below are several tips for developing an optimistic mindset. 

1.  Practice gratitude

Studies show that gratitude is connected to improved well-being, which includes factors like life satisfaction, hope, and optimism. Acknowledging the good in your life can help you consistently maintain a positive mindset. Consider keeping a gratitude journal or simply making a list each night of the things you’re thankful for. This can help you regularly focus on the positives as they arise. 

2.  Set goals 

Research suggests that setting attainable goals can lead to increased optimism. Focus each morning on your goals and expectations for the day. Think about your objectives and how you can accomplish them. This can help you develop a more proactive and constructive approach to life.  

3.  Record daily progress

If you want to make a change in the way you think and process information, consider keeping a journal. Consistently writing down your feelings and ideas regarding the good things in your life helps you ruminate on the positive changes you are trying to make track your progress. Record in your journal every morning and evening.

4. Focus on solutions 

When things go wrong, it can be difficult to remain optimistic. It may be tempting to focus on the negative and dwell on how things did not go as planned. 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.

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? In one study, researchers examining how optimism affects workplace output 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 experienced decreased levels of stress. When you focus on the things you can control and let go of the things you can’t, you can use your time more efficiently and reduce negativity surrounding your tasks. 

5.  Find the positive in difficult situations

When something goes wrong or you experience a setback, think about the positive aspects of the situation. For example, your picnic may have gotten rained out, but your garden might have also been wilting from a lack of rain; so the flowers and vegetables will likely benefit. 


6.  Surround yourself with optimistic people

There is evidence of a connection between optimism, social support, and improved mental health. When you surround yourself with optimistic people, it may be easier for you to develop a positive mindset. Recognize the friends, family members, co-workers, or other people in your life who want to see you succeed and have developed a positive outlook themselves. 

Conversely, it can help to identify those people in your life who may have a negative outlook. Consider having conversations with certain individuals about how their outlook affects you. They might not have realized they had a pessimistic perspective. In some cases, distancing yourself in a respectful way may be the best course of action in order to safeguard your emotional well-being. 

7.  Limit exposure to negative media

Between social media, tv, and other sources, we have the ability to take in a large amount of potentially upsetting content. Exposure to news stories, negativity from people posting, etc., can put us in a cynical headspace and make us feel pessimistic about the world. To safeguard your mental health, experts recommend limiting the amount of time you spend consuming negative media. Consider utilizing productivity apps that restrict certain sites or social media platforms.  

8.  Have something to look forward to

Knowing that you have an upcoming event that will bring you joy can help you feel excited for the future. Research suggests that having something to look forward to can reduce stress and increase positivity.  

This can mean scheduling a coffee date with an old friend, getting tickets for a concert, or booking a vacation. One study found that just planning a trip boosted participants’ happiness.  

9.  Look for different perspectives

We often become entrenched in our views of the world, and it can be hard for us to see things from a different perspective. There are always multiple ways to look at a situation, though, and seeking someone else’s point of view may lead you to feel different about your circumstances and could help you find solutions you hadn’t considered. For example, you may feel negatively after experiencing a tough week at work in which you didn’t achieve your goals. However, a coworker might point out how much progress you’ve made since last year and could have ideas for getting back on track. 

10.  Remember that you can get through difficult times

No matter how optimistic you are, sometimes challenges will arise. When this occurs, it can help to remember that you can get through difficult times. Remind yourself that the effects of the situation are likely temporary. When you remember that you can get through a rough patch, you can adopt a more optimistic view of the present and the future.

11.  Avoid rumination

When something negative happens, it is natural to bring your attention to it for a while. However, consistently thinking about the situation can lead to stress and other challenges. According to the American Psychiatric Association, rumination is “repetitive thinking or dwelling on negative feelings and distress and their causes and consequences”. The mental health concerns that often accompany these intrusive thoughts can make it hard for you to develop an optimistic mindset. If you find yourself ruminating, try to shift your focus to another subject or activity, such as exercise.

12.  Live in the present

When you live in the present, you may become less worried about past negative experiences or future challenges. Research shows that mindfulness—which focuses on being present and aware of your surroundings—can lead to a positive outlook. When you are more focused on the present, you can identify the good things that are happening in your life and around you.

13.  Acknowledge the negative without dwelling on it

It can be unhealthy to focus on the positive without acknowledging difficulties. This can give you an unrealistic view of life and cause you to make potentially harmful decisions. At the same time, dwelling on the negative can lead to challenges, as we’ve discussed. When things don’t go as planned, try to acknowledge the negative, learn from the situation, then move on to more positive things.

14.  Smile often

Smiling is proven to help boost mood and increase positivity. When something negative has happened, having a light-hearted conversation with a friend or seeking out humorous content can help you cope. Consider taking a time-out to listen to a funny podcast or watch your favorite stand-up comedian on YouTube. 

Want to develop a more optimistic perspective on life?

15.  Consider online therapy

Studies show that online therapy can lead to improvements in emotional health related to depression and positivity. In a study examining the benefits of online cognitive behavioral therapy for enhanced well-being, researchers found that treatment led to increased optimism in participants, in addition to “large and clinically significant effects on depression”. Cognitive behavioral therapy is widely utilized form of care that can help individuals reframe thought patterns that may lead to a negative outlook. 

If you have a hard time developing an optimistic mindset, know that help is available. With an online therapy platform like BetterHelp, you can work with a therapist remotely, which can be helpful if symptoms of depression or similar concerns make it hard for you to leave home. Your therapist can also connect you with useful resources, such as articles and at-home exercises geared toward helping you foster positivity in your life. 


Becoming more optimistic can help improve both your mental and physical health. There are numerous steps you can take on your own to learn to think more positively. Additionally, a licensed mental health professional can provide you with valuable support and helpful resources as you attempt to shift your outlook. With the right help, you can experience the benefits of increased optimism and mental wellness.
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