7 Ways To Be More Optimistic

Want to Be More Optimistic? Here are Seven Ways to Do It

Optimism is absolutely essential for winning, meeting and exceeding goals, and feeling accomplished and fulfilled. It helps us deal with unexpected change, worries and stress, and inevitable disappointments. Optimism is what helps us learn from mistakes rather than feel defeated by them.

But optimism doesn’t just make us feel happier. It also gives us confidence by helping us believe in ourselves and our ability to bring about a solution.

The 2006 St. Louis Cardinals are a case in point. These talented athletes had already mastered the mechanics of pitching, batting, and fielding. Yet the Cards hadn’t won a World Series in 20 years. When I was hired as their first ever Director of Mental Training, I focused on a different type of coaching. They needed to learn how to set goals, focus on their priorities, stay positive, be disciplined, and win. They needed to learn how to cultivate optimism and confidence.


The season I worked with them, the Cards won their first World Series in two decades. I worked with them again in 2011 when they won a second time. This is a testament to the fact that optimism can not only be learned, but that it can yield dramatic positive results.


Want to learn how to be more optimistic and confident? Here are seven ways to do it.


1. Play a 30-second “movie” of your life every day.
Create an imaginary movie reel of your ideal life. Include specific details about how you look, how you feel, where you live, what you’re doing, what you’ve accomplished, and what your life is like. For 30 seconds every day, play this movie in your mind. Set an alert on your phone to remind you. This simple mental training exercise will boost your mood and transform the way you think about yourself, your potential, and your future.


2. Try focusing on the solution, not the problem.
If you find yourself obsessing about a problem, experiencing self-doubt, or feeling negative, focus on the solution instead. Ask yourself, “What’s one thing I could do differently that might make this situation better?” Replacing problem-focused thinking with solution-focused thinking gives you a sense of forward movement, possibility, and hope—the foundations of optimism.
3. Look for any improvement to the current situation.
Get into the habit of looking for any improvement in the current situation as a solution, no matter how small. For example, losing a half pound may seem small when your goal is 50 pounds, but it’s movement in the right direction. Noticing small, positive changes is a basic behavior that helps you practice optimism and positive thinking. It orients you toward success.

4. Find your inner coach.

It’s natural to be more confident and perform better when we have someone cheering us on. Yet a major component of being a successful person is learning to be self-aware and accountable to oneself. One way to reinforce these traits is to conjure up a coach in your mind. Recall a role model who inspired and challenged you. When faced with a daunting task, ask yourself, “What would So-and-So do if she had two reports and only 24 hours to complete them?”

5. Give yourself “done wells” daily.

Take a few moments every day to ask the question, “What have I done well today?” This simple gesture reinforces optimism on a regular basis. Your answers accumulate and eventually help you develop self-confidence, which is extremely important for success.

6. Identify the obstacles to success.

What distractions or obstacles routinely get in the way of meeting your goals? Is it your sleep schedule? Unproductive habits? Negative people or saboteurs? A key to achieving optimism is to make steady progress, and that means limiting distractions. Figure out ways to avoid temptations in your life so you don’t deplete your reserve of discipline before getting priorities done. If you waste time on social media, don’t visit the sites until the end of the day. If you have difficulty saying, “I’m busy” to friends, let their calls go to voicemail. Succeeding rather than failing keeps you optimistic.


7. Nurture your body.

A healthy body helps you generate happy thoughts and emotions. Optimism is easier when you feel good. Factors that interfere with one’s ability to moderate a good mood and positive energy include: lack of sleep, depleted energy from poor eating and lifestyle habits, and too little exercise. If you have a big goal to achieve, “train” for it like a professional athlete. For optimal mental focus and performance, take a holistic approach to physical and mental health—sleep, rest, manage your stress, have a good diet, and get plenty of vigorous exercise.
* * * * *

Dr. Jason Selk is a mental toughness coach for individuals, businesses, and professional athletes and their coaches. He has two business bestsellers, both published by McGraw-Hill, 10-Minute Toughness and Executive Toughness. He’s a frequent television and radio contributor to ABC, CBS, ESPN, and NBC, blogs for Forbes.com, and has appeared widely in print. Learn more at www.enhancedperformanceinc.com.

25 Responses to 7 Ways To Be More Optimistic

  1. Looking for any improvement in a situation is a great way to become a full-grown optimist! That’s something that will allow you to improve on further and further as you learn to internalize this.

    I’d like to add one of my favorite “optimism hacks.” It comes from Stoicism and they call the practice “negative visualization.”

    Here’s an excerpt from an article I wrote for DLM where I describe what this is.

    “Envision the worst-case scenario in regards to what you have.

    Truly imagine in your mind the idea of losing your loved ones, being homeless, and being ripped away from the comfort of life’s luxuries. Do this routinely and you will suddenly feel a sense of happiness when you realize you have more than enough.”

    Hope this helps others as much as it helps me!

  2. Joan Harrison says:

    Every thought put into the subconscious mind eventually manifests itself in your life, so I would be extremely careful of putting negatives out there!
    The exercises suggested in this post are excellent as they are simple, short and repeated daily, exactly the material the subconscious favors and can deal with. Keep it simple and clear.

  3. UpbeatBrain says:

    Thanks for this, Jason. As a blogger, I sometimes stumble into too much focus on trends in my Alex Traffic Rank and other stats that aren’t hitting the marks that I would like. Instead of worrying about these problems, I’m going to focus in the future on solutions. Also, I’m definitely going to try your 30-second movie. I just added that as the first item on my daily to-do list!

  4. Dan Erickson says:

    Great tips for staying optimistic. Thanks!

  5. Morgan Decker says:

    Great post! One thing I like to do to stay optimistic is make a list of what I have to do and lay out all of my responsibilities. Getting things done that I need to concentrate on and looking forward towards the future of having free time always puts me in the best and most productive mood!

  6. Aaron Morton says:

    I would be more inclined with doing a negative visualisation where you imagine worst case scenario BUT THEN visualise how you would get past that using the resources you have.

    Whilst the way you have described is good in order to feel better about what you have, I am more inclined to teach my brain how to be confident to handle most setbacks and be resilient to act when needs be.


  7. Good news, Aaron! Stoicism actually tackles that too! However, that process is called voluntary discomfort.

    I apologize for the long copy paste, but this is an excerpt describing voluntary discomfort from an article I wrote for Lifehack.org

    “Seneca was a huge believer in intentionally putting yourself out in less than comfortable conditions several times a month. It wasn’t enough to just envision discomfort but you had to literally live through it.

    He wanted to go with less food, wear less than ideal clothing, sleep somewhere other than his comfortable and warm bed. You had to become a part of a lesser lifestyle to truly learn how amazing it is when you were comfortable and it is something that I’ll do quite often.

    While everyone around me is complaining about how cold it is or about how hungry they are I am content and comfortable with fewer layers of clothing and less food. I am just happy to be alive, as I have voluntarily endured much harsher situations.

    This practice of voluntary discomfort that Stoicism does more than just make you appreciate comfort, it teaches you to have a high tolerance of that which is uncomfortable and you will always be content; it is something that you should practice at least a few times a month because you grow confident that if you can survive these minor periods of discomfort, you can also survive major discomforts as well.”

    Really though, if you think Stoicism sounds interesting, I recommend William B. Irvine’s “Guide to the Good Life.” Great introduction to the practices and history behind Stoicism. Very good for a modern audience as well.

  8. Aaron Morton says:

    Great article. I use the term ‘functional optimism’ in regards to using optimism for a reason other than to just feel better at the time. For example if someone has been made redundant. its great they are being optimistic but if they are JUST being optimistic in order to feel better, well they are still out of work but can muster a smile. Alternatively if they use that optimism as a driver to act in order to find more work then they are using it in a functional manner.

    The Confidence Lounge

  9. Asia Connor says:

    Totally agree with you.

  10. Sam Matla says:

    Wow, point number 1. I used to do this as a little kid, except I just tried acting
    cool instead of being optimistic – that’s a really good idea.

    I think a great way to be optimistic is to be grateful for things, even if we have a bad
    day – look for the positives. A positive mind-set goes so far, many don’t
    realize it.

    Thanks for the great post!

  11. Lis says:

    This is really good! I read your article about fear a few days ago, and I’ve begun with my every-day challenge because fear is my “distraction” to meet my goal! Thanks, you inspire me!

  12. #2…one of peoples biggest hurdles. Focusing on the problem instead of the solution..
    Great post!

  13. Andrea Hypno says:

    As Napoleon Hill said a positive mental attitude is the basis for achieving anything. When talking about being optimistic I usually say that a negative attitude guarantees no or little results, an optimistic one gives a 50 percent chance to succeed; and 50 percent is better than 0. :)

    Very interesting article, I agree especially on point n.2.

  14. jojo says:

    dunno, guess I’m just not in the mood or mindset of optimism.good luck for those who are. I’ve been reading about positive psychology and the more i read about it the more I’m convinced that it takes a lot more than being optimistic to be positive, enlightened and happy.but then again what is happiness?!

  15. http://selfimprovementttt.blog says:
  16. sonja says:

    Your subconscience mind doesn’t know the difference between real and imagined. Why bother with the negative? This excersise is not to teach your brain how to get past setbacks it’s to free your mind of the chains that bind. Your mind needs to believe that anything is possible…You missed the point.

  17. Aaron Morton says:

    Hi Sonja, your brain (the subconscious you refer to is a metaphor for processes that occur in your brain outside of your awareness) can tell the difference between real and imagined, but an imagined event can produce the same effects as real. We have the ability through self talk to tell ourselves what is real & imagined.

    We are able to visualise getting over setbacks as well as exploring what is possible. I would argue they are different stages of the same process.

    Having spent time exploring what is possible, if a certain idea gets you excited enough that it moves you towards acting upon it,
    spending time imagining the potential hurdles that may arise and how you would deal with that using the resources you have, is not missing the point but increasing your chances of actually making it a reality rather than just being a dreamer.

    The Confidence Lounge

  18. Aaron Morton says:

    A state of contentment that recognises that some days you’ll be positive and others days you’ll be negative but overall you can look at the world you live in with a sense of being content with where you are at the moment.

    Aaron Morton
    The Confidence Lounge.

  19. jojo says:

    Thnx Aaron, I guess I’ll start with accepting reality as it is , and I’ll see how that goes…..

  20. chavan says:

    i found some difference while doing 7 steps every day

  21. One way to put yourself into an optimistic “state” is to think back to situation where you accomplished a major goal. Try to relive the emotional high that you had and bring it into the current moment. Know that if you were successful at something in the past you can do it again. This nourishes an optimistic mindset.

    I authored the book “The Success Formula for Personal Growth.” Its companion website, http:www.getsuccessquotes.com has thousands of personal development and success quotes and tips to imporove your personal and work life. Stop by for a daily motivation boost to light your success fuse!


  22. Pingback: Issue 43 – Give, Take, Match: Which One Will You Do? | TLN

  23. Pingback: بخطوات غير تقليدية: كيف تصبح أكثر تفاؤلاً وإيجابية؟! | تيكي توك تكنلوجيا

  24. Pingback: 7 tips para ser más optimista – Motivación y Liderazgo

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *