The Optimism Definition - How To Be More Optimistic

Updated February 1, 2022
CheckedMedically Reviewed By Avia James, LPC


According to an article published in Clinical Practice & Epidemiology in Mental Health, optimism is linked to many positive life effects such as improved physical and emotional health. When you see how good it is for you to be optimistic, it makes it difficult to see why anyone would choose not to. Understanding the optimism definition and how to be more optimistic can truly transform your life.

The Optimism Definition

Many people think of optimism as simply looking on the bright side of any situation. Optimistic people are glass-half-full people. They see the silver lining and look for the positive in every situation. defines optimism as, "a disposition or tendency to look on the more favorable side of events or conditions and to expect the most favorable outcome. The belief that good ultimately predominates over evil in the world." A review of other resources yields similar definitions to the concept of optimism.

Understanding the definition of optimism is the easy part. Applying optimism to one's life, however, is a bit more challenging.

Choosing To Be Optimistic

The optimism definition can make it sound like being optimistic is something you either do or don't do. The definition states that it's a disposition or tendency to react in a certain way. The definition almost makes it sound like it's out of your control whether you are optimistic or pessimistic. However, that's not true. Being optimistic is also a choice, and it's something that all of us can do.

It's easy to be optimistic when things in your life are going well, but what if they aren't? The easy thing to do is to give in to your feelings and difficult situations. It's easy to get angry, frustrated, and feel like the sky is falling when it seems like you're faced with a series of problems. But being pessimistic does not help you in the long run. Choosing to be optimistic might not improve your immediate situation, but it can improve your outlook on life overall. Because of this, learning how to choose optimism is an important part of life.


How To Be More Optimistic

  1. Stop Focusing On Your Problems

If you want to become a more optimistic person, you may need to change the way you think. Instead of focusing on what's going wrong in your life, start looking for the solutions to the problem and focus on those. For example, if you are having financial problems, it's easy to get caught up in thinking about how bad your finances are. You can dwell on the fact that you don't have the money to pay the bills and other financial commitments you've made. But, thinking about and dwelling on the problem does nothing to change it. All you do is stress yourself out and make yourself feel sick.

The more optimistic approach to the example of financial trouble would be to start thinking of solutions. Think of ways you can earn more money. What can you do to pay the bill? What solutions are out there that can help you solve this problem? The more you start to focus on those questions and their answers, the more optimistic you will become. You will begin to see that you are in control and can make a difference in your situation.

Pessimistic people tend to think that life is out of their control. Things either go well for them, or they go bad. People with pessimistic tendencies often believe things will go poorly. An optimistic person believes that they have control over the outcome of situations in their life. Even if optimistic people go through difficult times, they can remain optimistic because they don't believe and expect that everything coming their way will be bad.

2. Start To Acknowledge Your Successes

If you want to become more optimistic, you need to start seeing the things that are going well in your life. It's easy to get caught up in failure and difficult times and forget to acknowledge the things that are going well. Take time at the end of each day to write out a list of the successes that you had for the day. These could be big things like finding a new job, or they can be small things like getting the grocery shopping done.

The more you begin to label the things that you're accomplishing throughout the day as successes, the more optimistic you can become. This will also help to grow your confidence which will also help you to feel more optimistic.

3. Track Your Progress

Pessimistic people tend to ignore the progress that they are making in life. They are so focused on what they don't have and what's going wrong that they don't celebrate the things going right. If you want to become more optimistic, you can start tracking your progress. No matter how small it is, if you have made progress in an area, it is something to be celebrated. This could be as simple as keeping track of things that you have learned throughout the day.

Tracking your progress is a habit that you need to build into your day. Make reminders for yourself throughout the day in the beginning. But as you continue to do this, it will eventually become a natural activity that you do.

  1. Visualize Your Success

The optimism definition proclaims that people that are optimistic expect the best outcome in a situation. This is something you can learn how to do if it doesn't come naturally to you. When you have a situation coming that you are feeling uneasy or negative about, take time to visualize. Close your eyes and imagine a favorable outcome that you would like to see happen in the situation. Think about this outcome for a few minutes and start to see and feel what it would look like if it happened.

Visualizing an outcome does not guarantee that it is going to happen. But it helps to train your mind to expect a more favorable outcome. When you are expecting something, you are more likely to get it. So, if you expect good, you will begin to look for the good in a situation. If you expect bad, you are going to look for and even create the bad scenarios that you've been playing in your head.

5. Practice Being Grateful

Optimistic people tend to be more grateful for the things that they have in life. Pessimistic people are so focused on the negative and the bad that they forget all of the things they have to be thankful for. Practice daily using a gratitude journal. When you are struggling with feeling optimistic, do a mental or an actual inventory of the things that you are thankful for.

No matter what situation you are going through, every person has something to be grateful for. It could be as simple as having food in your belly, a roof over your head, or family and friends who love you. It doesn't matter what you include in your list as long as you are keeping one and focusing your attention on it.

6. Stop Spending Time With Negative People

It's hard to be optimistic when surrounded by negative people. If your friends and family tend to be negative, then you may want to consider limiting the time you spend with them. Being around pessimistic people may make it more difficult to exercise optimism, no matter how hard you try. And while they may not be doing it on purpose, this does not change the fact that exercising optimism around them can become farther more difficult.

Look for new people to form friendships with that are like-minded. Look for optimistic people who are goal-oriented and expecting the best in life. These are the people that will help you to remain optimistic through difficult times. If you do have negative people in your life that you cannot break relationships with, you may need to work on reducing the time that you spend with them and controlling the conversation when you are together.


Seek Help If You Are Struggling

Life is hard and being optimistic is not always an easy goal to accomplish. If you have had a lot of negative situations and events in your life, you may struggle with developing and maintaining an optimistic attitude. If you are living with depression, being optimistic can seem like a far-off goal. Maybe you have tried to change your attitude in the past, but had little success with this practice. The good news is, you don't have to do it alone. There are professionals at BetterHelp that would love to help you work through this process.

Online therapy can be a great resource that can help you learn how to apply optimism to daily life. Licensed and trained therapists can help you find out what roadblocks may prevent you from applying optimism to enhance your quality of life. Anyone can use counseling to find ways to be more optimistic. A study published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology found that online optimism interventions have been linked to decreased symptoms of depression in individuals who tend to be pessimistic. Participants reported significant levels of reduced dysfunctional attitudes and a sense of ease in pursuing happiness in daily life.

Online interventions such as counseling and therapy can be a great first step in using optimism in your life. Many licensed and trained therapists are uniquely qualified in helping individuals find paths toward self-healing, acceptance, and growth. After a little bit of research, you can find the right therapist for your situation. Additionally, online therapy can be conducted from the comfort of your own home. You can reach out to a counselor through video conferences, phone calls, and live messaging. This can be a viable option if you are uncertain about seeing a therapist in person.

As Helen Keller once said, "Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence." If you are struggling to have hope and confidence, reach out to a BetterHelp professional today.

Read below for a few testimonials of people who’ve reached out to BetterHelp:

“I was never someone who thought I would want to go to therapy or talk to a therapist. Recently I came to the realization that I may need it and have since started talking to Dr Rasheed after I got paired with him on this site. I am an anxious person and I had all sorts of anxiety about starting with him but I can say, he makes it very comfortable and definitely knows his stuff. I've been to two sessions so far and plan to do alot more. Every session leaves me feeling a bit better than before. I went from being unsure of this whole process to being very optimistic and confident that we will overcome my mental obstacles. He has me looking forward to future sessions and has already given me a mindset to improve myself. Definitely recommend talking to him!”

“Ramona has helped me rebuild my confidence in recent weeks and helped me to focus on what really matters. Without her guidance and direction, I probably would be way behind in my feelings of optimism.”

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