“Happiness is not the absence of problems; it is the ability to deal with them.”
Charles de Montesquieu


We all have bad days, sometimes bad weeks or months, and from time to time, we get trapped into a cloud of negative thoughts that follows us everywhere, sucking out our energy and discouraging us from following our normal routines. And the more often these pessimistic thoughts dog us, the more of a habit we make of them. But as the quote above suggests, it is up to us how we deal with them.

You may have noticed that lots of people manage to stay calm even in very difficult circumstances. They are the optimists, and while some people are naturally more optimistic than others, we all get to decide every day what kind of person to be and how to look at the world.

Not only do the optimists handle life’s problems better, but a growing number of scientific studies suggest optimistic people tend to live longer and have better physical and mental health than pessimistic people. For example, researchers from the Harvard University School of Public Health found that a positive psychological outlook appears to reduce the risk of heart attacks, strokes and other cardiovascular events regardless of the individual’s age, socioeconomic status, body weight and smoking history.

Studies suggest optimistic people tend to live longer and have better physical and mental health. Share on X

While some people are naturally more optimistic than others, several researchers, like Martin E.P. Seligman and Daniel Goleman, have come to the conclusion that optimism is a thinking style that can be learnt.

Now, being optimistic – or looking at the bright side or at the glass half full – may not be easy, especially for those who have acquired a pessimistic attitude throughout their life, but in order to make the shift from negative to positive, some actions are required. Let’s start with some basic ones:

1. Surround yourself of positive people

Optimism is contagious, and so is pessimism. Your environment has a huge impact on your wellbeing, so consider spending less time with those who keep complaining and talking about their problems, and more time with those who give you joy and make you laugh.  

2. Perspective is everything

When we are stressed, it is very easy to make a mountain out of a molehill. The moment that happens, try to pause, breathe deeply for a few seconds, go for a walk if needed, and reframe your frustrations.

Reframing involves taking a negative situation and turning it into a way that makes it look positive. For example, instead of thinking “No matter how hard I work and how much I care, my boss will never appreciate it” shift to “even though it’s hard, I am doing a pretty good job and I know that I will learn a lot from this situation”

3. You get what you attract

Have you heard of “The Law of Attraction”? In short, the law of attraction sums up the idea that by focusing on positive or negative thoughts, a person brings positive or negative experiences into his or her life. So make an effort to expect good results and circumstances will change accordingly.

Remember that complaining will not solve anything.

4. Stop comparing yourself to others in a competitive way

Each person has unique and valuable talents. Don’t try to be someone else, it will only frustrate you and, besides, that place is already taken.

5. Try to find the good in every situation

We know you’ve heard this before. The fact is it is simply true – there is always something good around you. So try and step back, see if there is an area that could be seen as positive and focus your thoughts and energy on that one thing.

6. Challenge your mind by learning something new every day

Why is this connected to optimism? Learning helps us adapt to new situations more easily and quickly, it gives us a wide range of perspectives to consider, it serves as an inspiration to think creatively – and, who knows, you may rediscover yourself.

7. Begin your day with music

This is quite personal, but it usually works! On your way to work, or even when you are preparing your breakfast, put on some nice and cheering music. It’s a very simple habit that works as a super mood booster and, in turn, it will lead to a more positive attitude towards your day and life.

It will take you some time to be able to fully change your mindset and attitude, but if you persevere, you will do it. Remember: “We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves” (Buddha)

We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. Share on X